The corrosive effects of grief on the human body are explored in an utterly bleak and raw tale by Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska. Body tells three interconnected stories of love and loss, in a Cinéma-vérité-esque style that completely strips the characters and story bare, leaving behind the most woeful images of the human affliction known as grief ever put to the silver screen. Janusz, a cynical criminal prosecutor, his bulimic daughter Olga and her unconventional psychotherapist, are all radically different people struggling to cope with the same infirmity.
Strangely enough, these images are mixed with soothing – almost hypnotic – scenes that entrance the viewer into a more susceptible state, allowing for the more emotional segments to be that much more effective. Set to a dreary backdrop of an industrialised Poland, Body barely passes as a colour film, as the director has gone for a heavily desaturated effect to match the character’s internal ailments. Just as Requiem for a Dream is the quintessential film about drug addiction, Body is the quintessential film about coping with grief; the movie no doubt conveys the devastating aftermath of it’s central theme extremely well, but there is absolutely no eagerness to witness it again, because the resulting feature is so harrowing.
It’s hard to pick a best performance out of the three main characters, because each of the actors are so utterly believable in their misery – each protagonist’s emotional breakdowns are done in unique and subtle ways, and each actor has brought their A-game as Body delivers some of the most naturalistic acting that cinema has seen all year. Though the dialogue is sparse and unmemorable, this only adds to the authenticity of the piece, as reality is not nearly as quotable as every Hollywood blockbuster would have some believing.
Touching, raw, and uncompromising, Body is an unflinching fable that deserves recognition for its gritty insight into the anguish that grief can cause.
Body does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Body here: