Sometimes, subtlety doesn’t actually help.
A family reunion in a small Polish village isn’t your usual setting for the surreal or supernatural. When a long-since absent sister returns to her siblings and ailing mother, things soon start to take a very unusual turn. The suggested, altogether uncommon and the metaphysically confounding all escalate quietly to an inevitably inharmonious, symbolic conclusion.
Taking place in the lead up to a Communion ceremony, numerous events as depicted, if at times jarring, conversely to what we are invited to surmise can very well be taken to be of this world. Fairly at least in the film’s early stages encouraging speculation, as things progress many instances’ relevance within the story and thematic intentions become readily apparent as does their tangibility, proving never so intriguing as that intrinsic to the more ambiguous moments.
Once the machinations do become apparent, the all too realistic if impliedly fantastical happenings never bare the potential impact of their recurrence had some not at least more greatly welcomed the familiar sense of wonder innate to even the minimally and outwardly illusory, fanciful or dreamlike. Sticking with it’s restrained motif, an evident and purposeful defiance of genre conventions pursued by situating the outlandish in the guise of the not irregular or even unremarkable goes very little way to extolling a sense of intrigue or want necessary for the enjoyment of the form.
A heartbreaking family conflict central to the plot and it’s purposive emotional backbone does go some way to anchor the film’s more involving aspects, though for greater impact could just as well have been situated in the traditionally dramatic or avowedly otherworldly. Featuring a few capable performances, confrontations between various characters and a memorable sequence at a Church regardless, the treatment of it’s conceit adds little to an emotive but as realised greatly wanting family drama.
Tower. A Bright Day screened as part of the Sydney Film Festival