Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Two years after emerging from the wilds outside of Warsaw, a battered woman (Gabriela Muskała, riveting) is returned to a family she has no memory of. In turn, her husband (Łukasz Simlat) and young son (Iwo Rajski) feel as though a complete stranger has been left in their care. This is the jumping-off point for Agnieszka Smoczynska’s psychological mystery—a chilling and subversive feminist drama. Having established herself as an international sensation with her mermaid musical The Lure, Smoczynska proves that she’s every bit as capable of impressing when foregoing genre bending in favour of employing minimalist means to stoke rich atmospherics and exploring intriguing thematics concerning self-discovery/definition in the face of familial expectations and cultural stigmas.
"Its controlled expansiveness of tone, psychology and camera mark its [director]—invaluably aided by writer-star Gabriela Muskała—as a stylist of considerable, unpredictable finesse… Smoczyńska and Muskała tell their story in sharp, clean strokes, skipping past procedural complications and cutting directly to the heart of emotional ones… There are well-placed flourishes here of The Lure’s dark ingenuity [but]… as a character study of a woman desperately trying to resolve one identity with another, its deft, artful breaks in form are as considered as everything else."—Guy Lodge, Variety