Cialo [Body] (2015)

Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Writer: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert
Cast: Janusz GajosMaja OstaszewskaJustyna Suwala
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 27.2.2016

Janusz (Janusz Gajos) lives with his daughter Olga (Justyna Suwala). Since the death of his wife Helena, their relationship has been strained: Janusz fled into his work as a district attorney and into alcohol, Olga into bulimia. Janusz tries to help her, but her resentment of him doesn’t make that easy. After Olga attempts suicide, Janusz brings her to hospital where they meet the psychiatrist Anna (Maja Ostaszewska). Anna reveals to them that she can contact the dead and offers to contact Helena for them.

Cialo was very promising in parts, but despite its tense atmosphere that is intriguingly intertwined with humor, it couldn’t keep my attention all the way through.


The opening scene of the film already promises much: Janusz arrives at a possible crime scene: a man is hanging from a tree. As the specialists cut him down and discuss the best steps to take next, the presumed dead man gets up and walks away, leaving them to their discussions. That is the kind of humor that makes its way into the film every once in a while and that I enjoyed a whole lot.

When the film isn’t being funny, though, it’s very serious, tense and tries to say a lot about many things. Not all of that works. The way grief not only affects the psyche but the body itself is symbolized with Olga’s bulimia, but unfortunately that examination remains flat and I can’t help but feel that pushing bulimia into strictly metaphoric territory is doing a disservice to the people who actually struggle with it.


Whily I found the almost casual inclusion of supernatural phenomena into this realistic setting interesting (although it had me constantly doubting whether there was actual supernatural phenomena where taking place until they made it quite explicit), after the set-up the film loses a lot of its steam and impact. The film gets a lot of its tension from the supernatural, but I did wish that they had limited themselves to playing with the fantastic and kept it more ambiguous.

While there are strong moments spread throughout the film, it’s only with the very last shot that they really recover a lot of what went wrong in the half hour, 45 minutes before. That was an impressively powerful image and on the strength of it alone, it’s probably worth to watch the film.


Summarizing: you don’t have to rush to see it, but it isn’t bad.

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