After Cold War and Corpus Christi, Polish cinema’s renaissance continues with this intriguing and stunningly-shot drama about a mysterious masseur who infiltrates a gated community. In Competition, Venice.
When charismatic Ukrainian masseur Zenia (Stranger Things’
Alec Utgoff) applies for residency in Poland, a stern government official says, “I feel quite strange around you.” What happens next sets the tone for a tantalising drama of appearances by Malgorzata Szumowska (Mug
, SFF 2018) and frequent collaborator Michal Englert. Everyone in a cluster of soulless McMansions on the city outskirts agrees that Zenia is a miracle worker with a magic touch for physical and mental rejuvenation. But is there more to the newcomer than meets the longing gaze of so many women behind those bland brick frontages? Middle-class ennui and repressed desire have rarely been manipulated with such skilful and slyly satirical hands; the film was deservedly Poland’s 2021 Oscars submission for Best International Feature.