JDIFF Review – The Girl From the Wardrobe

Since their parents died, Jacek (Piotr Glowacki) has cared for his brother Tomek (Wojciech Mecwaldowski), who suffers from a neurological disease. WhenJacek asks their neighbour Magda (Magdalena Rózanska) to take care of his brother one night, a bond forms between three lonely people who are searching for a connection in their lives.

There is a sweet and rather sad story at the heart of Bodo Kox’s film; people who find each other in the most challenging of circumstances, but there are also a lot of issues brought up in the film that are never fully explored. Piotr Glowacki does incredibly well in the film as Jacek, a man who loves his brother but also longs for a ‘normal’ life. Jacek falls in love with a different woman almost every week, but can never make it work with them due to his commitment to his brother. The relationship between the two men feels almost uncomfortably real; with Jacek consistently frustrated by his brother, but utterly protective of him at the same time.

Wojciech Mecwaldowski may not have many lines as Tomek, but the actor gives a sense that there is a lot going on underneath the surface that Tomek wishes he could articulate. Perhaps the most interesting, and underdeveloped, character in the film is Magda; Magdalena Rózanska does well with what she is given, but we never really learn this character’s motivations. That said, however, her relationship with Tomek is warm and sweet.

Bodo Kox has created a film where three worlds collide; Tomek, suffering from a degenerative disease, sees war in the skies above his home, Magda, struggling with depression and isolation, sees a warm and lush forest in her home, and Jacek is left to contend with the real world that he has created for himself. Although these worlds collide from time to time, they have very little impact on one another and, as such, we actually learn very little about these characters, other than the fact that they suffer.

There are some stunning visual moments throughout the film – generally a hallucination on the part of one of the characters – and these go a long way to enhance a film that plods along without any real sense of direction. There is no revelation or salvation here, rather an acceptance of inevitability that is more depressing than enlightening.

The Girl From the Wardrobe is a film that is visually, very pretty. In terms of story and character, however, it feels underdeveloped and slow with very little payoff at the end of the journey. A deeper exploration of the issues that plague the characters could have led to a more satisfying film, but as it stands The Girl From the Wardrobe relies all too much of quirkiness to have very much real charm.

Rating: 2/5

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