Set in a small village on the Czech-Polish border, Spoor sees amateur astrologist and part-time schoolteacher Janina Duszejko (Agnieszka Mandat-Grabka) fight state-sanctioned poaching in a close-knit hunting community. After her two dogs (or “daughters”, as she calls them) vanish, presumed dead in what may or may not be a hunting accident, several local hunters are bumped off one-by-one. As suspicion rises, the radical egalitarian insists it’s nature enforcing balance, and that the animals are finally taking their revenge on their gun-toting oppressors….
Adapted from Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive Your Plough Over The Bones Of The Dead, this uncategorisable new film by Agnieszka Holland, which she co-directed with storyboard artist Kasia Adamik, won the veteran director the Silver Bear at last year’s Berlinale. It was a deserved win on the whole, as what begins as an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery manages to occasionally flirt with the surreal and entertainingly morphs into an off-beat thriller. It’s a busy film, which crams a lot into its overlong runtime, but it mostly succeeds, especially when it comes to the Coenesque touches of black comedy and Mandat-Grabka’s wonderfully committed central performance. The work of DOPs Jolanta Dylewska and Rafal Paradowski also stands out, as the cinematography crisply accentuates the coldness of the woodland scenery, and allows layers of warmth and surreal weirdness to infringe upon an austere atmosphere. The lengthy end result isn’t quite up there with Holland’s best work, but it’s a welcome return to the big screen for the idiosyncratic filmmaker, who’s spent the best part of the last decade on the TV sets of The Killing, Treme and House of Cards.
Spoor (Pokot) | Directed by Agnieszka Holland, Kasia Adamik (Poland, 2017) with Agnieszka Mandat-Grabka, Wiktor Zborowski, Jakub Gierszal. Starts January 4.
Check our OV search engine for showtimes.