MIFF 2015: Body

Body features a triad of interlinking stories: a young girl fights bulimia, her attorney father confronts grief, and their psychologist can speak to ghosts. We learn about these complex characters through a myriad of vignettes and interactions, ranging from the absurd and hilarious to the emotional and intense.

The three leads brilliantly convey the weight of a heavy script, tackling confronting issues bravely and giving one of the best ensemble performances of the festival so far.

For these characters, death is everywhere and is constantly overwhelming. In the film’s hilarious opening scene, the weary attorney (Janusz Gajos) attends the crime scene of a suicide victim, not even checking to see if he's dead. After cutting the victim down from his place hanging in the tree, the man gets up and leaves, much to the bemusement of our protagonist and his fellow workers.

Elsewhere, the attorney's daughter Olga (Justyna Suwala), her body frail and deteriorating, binges on chocolate and white bread and then moments later can be heard violently gagging and vomiting from the toilet. Her grieving and selfish father listens, reluctant to help because he too suffers from self-destructive tendencies.

Anna (Maja Ostaszewska) is a medium and psychologist treating Olga following her fifth suicide attempt. She sleeps with her pet dog and spends her nights manically jotting down the words of the dead that seem to pass through her in quick chaotic fits.

These are the kinds of strange and moving vignettes scattered all throughout Body, ultimately leaving the viewer touched and entertained. The complexities and absurdities of grief, loss, death and fear are heavy themes to attempt to portray, but director Małgorzata Szumowska crafts a moving portrait that’ll likely cause tears but never feels too soppy or contrived.

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