When a mysterious woman, Alicja (writer Gabriela Muskala), emerges from the train tracks with no memory of who she is or where she came from, an inquiry is launched to uncover her identity. However, when a man calls claiming to be her father, Alicja – or Kinga, her original name – is reintroduced to her life and family, but as she slowly starts to remember what happened to her she begins to question whether she should stay. The second feature film by Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska, Fugue is a haunting thriller that gradually tugs at the thread of its central mystery to unravel a thoughtful character study.
After a strange introduction to our protagonist that instantly grabs viewers’ attention, we skip forward two years to the point she is reunited with her husband (Lukasz Simlat) and young son Daniel (Iwo Rajski). From herein, the narrative shifts gear to a mechanically methodical pace that, slowly but surely, begins to gain traction as each new revelation starts to come to light. Consequently, the first half can feel incredibly drawn out with only brief glimpses of more interesting things to come. When events do start to pick up, however, Fugue becomes an emotionally rich and sometimes even unsettling experience.
A large part of the film’s success is down to a riveting performance by Muskala who’s able to take audiences to rather bleak and harrowing places vicariously through her character. The supporting cast, too, do a great job in laying the foundation for Muskala to work from with young Rajski in particular giving a very mature performance well beyond his years. Although the narrative focuses predominately on examining Alicja’s return to the status quo, more could have been made of the other characters, who scarcely possess any arcs of their own – a shame considering the acting potential on display.
Alongside the central performances, cinematography and sound design are expertly deployed to pinpoint precision to create the sensation of Alicja being isolated amongst the strangers who call themselves her family through clever framing and unsettling sound design.
Starting out as a rather dull affair, Fugue gradually snowballs into a character-driven thriller that manages to be gripping, harrowing and full of emotional impact.
Fugue (Fuga) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Fugue (Fuga) here: