by Ola Salwa
- Bristling with action and rich in meanings, an impressive first feature by Bartosz Kruhlik has premiered at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia
It was supposed to be a nice, easy Sunday morning. The sun was already up, bright and strong, giving the air its chalky tint. The half-dried grass, the quiet country road, the loud cow – everything in the opening scene of Bartosz Kruhlik’s stellar feature debut, Supernova [+see also:
interview: Bartosz Kruhlik
film profile], premiering at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, screams “bucolic”. But soon, four people show up, shattering the peace. First in walks a woman, determined to leave her drunken husband, carrying with her only a small bag and two little children. The man tries to stop her, but alcohol is already running through his veins, making his attempts ineffective. In a matter of minutes, a horrible accident will interweave the destinies of this broken family with that of a politician, who runs them over (Marcin Hycnar), and of a policeman (Marek Braun), who arrives at the scene. The horrific events are closely observed by the locals, armed with smartphones and with their curiosity, which will soon turn into righteous anger. Everything that follows will seem surprising, shocking, yet inevitable: the narrow road transforms into what looks like a scene from an ancient tragedy, with a cruel deity deciding on the fate of men.
The structure of the story is admirable, every element of this modest film (with a budget of approximately €300,000) carefully invented and designed. There are no random gestures or props – everything matters and adds up. Every gun hanging on the wall will fire. Kruhlik, who also wrote Supernova, holds complete control of the onscreen world, purposely and precisely executing his intentions and wonderfully directing both leading and supporting actors, their performances ranging from deeply intense to discreet. The cast is made up of relatively unknown actors (except Hycnar, which also makes sense here - he plays a public figure), a fact which, along with the film’s long shots and few cuts, enhances the realism and tension of the storytelling. The pale white light contrasted with the fast and abrupt camera shifts are the contribution of Polish rising-star DoP Michał Dymek (Dolce Fine Giornata [+see also:
interview: Jacek Borcuch
But Supernova is more than form. Kruhlik investigates the way people function in groups, how their opinions and actions can be changed, swayed and influenced. Perspective and the amount of information that people are given are crucial in making up the minds of characters. Snap judgements, decisions made under the influence of booze or emotions, the inability to see the bigger picture – in other words, all the kinds of mental shortcuts that people take – are the invisible yet present antagonists in Supernova. The existence of these unseen forces driving and influencing people’s behaviour is one of the most important themes for Kruhlik. And while some of them can be tamed by reason or rules, others roam widely, exploding with blinding light.
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