Wieża. Jasny dzień (Tower. A Bright Day)
To authentically portray an unbalanced person is a difficult… well, balancing act. To overplay is to have a character of the stark raving variety, and to underplay can come across as sociopathic. So much of Tower. A Bright Day hangs upon Małgorzata Szczerbowska as Kaja. She spends much of the film with a vague smile and eyes that can quickly flash from blank to lucid, and she is brilliantly, complicatedly unsettling.
There’s a family reunion of sorts in the wilds of Poland. Mula (Anna Krotoska) greets arrivals, including her sister Kaja. They’re gathering for Mula’s daughter’s first communion. Only the daughter in question (Nina, as played by Laila Hennessy) is in fact Kaja’s, who went AWOL many years ago, leaving Mula to step in as mother. In a calmly savage and presumably much-rehearsed speech, she instructs Kaja to not even remind Nina that she’s her mother.
It’s not only the performance of Szczerbowska as Kaja that contributes to the disconcerting sense of foreboding. The whole film has a nervous energy, with ominous sound mixing and slow-moving imagery that seems nightmarish at times. The visual choices of director Jagoda Szelc are often intriguing. The camera jolts around, shaking and lurching, with the zoom moving in and out. It’s like an enthusiastic amateur has found an old camcorder, but again, it adds to the overall sense of impending doom. The artifice is obvious, but this gives the characters an authenticity, as contradictory as that seems. A simple yet inventive device where a scene jumps back in time by half a minute or so and then focuses on another character who seemed to be milling about in the background is highly effective.
There’s a dark and sinister undertone that is evident throughout Tower. A Bright Day, even with the luminous sun-drenched countryside that’s on display. Even the most innocent of events feel like something drastic is about to unleash itself.
Wieża. Jasny dzień (Tower. A Bright Day) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Wieża. Jasny dzień (Tower. A Bright Day) here: