Environmentalism and feminism are one and the identical in Agnieszka Holland’s gloomy, dystopian fable “Spoor.” Co-directed by Holland and her daughter Kasia Adamik with dreamlike high quality, the movie’s mossy world is a lush and damp one, the place Mom Earth is threatened by males in methods each insidious and blatant. Think about if the Coen brothers wrote and directed a kind of darkly revisionist Disney movies like “Maleficent,” and you can find your self throughout the borders of this story’s mountainous city pitched someplace between Poland and Czech Republic, the place males are ruthless, ungentlemanly hunters, empowered to disturb nature’s peace and wreck the well-being of the animals that reside inside it.
They’re additionally the destroyers of every part that issues to the film’s central character Duszejko (Agnieszka Mandat), a hippy-ish, retired engineer and college instructor in addition to a flesh-and-blood mom of the character herself, main a lonesome however principled life in that bloodthirsty village. Captivated with animal rights and astrology, the Klodzko Valley resident enjoys a good, quiet existence along with her two beloved canines and loads of Bach within the background till blood begins spilling mysteriously. All of it begins with the inexplicable disappearance of her four-legged greatest buddies someday. Dealing with man after unsympathetic man in her quest to search out them—together with one particularly deranged priest who shames her for referring to her canines as her youngsters and denies a reality as apparent as animals having souls—Duszejko finds herself within the midst of an blood-splattered maze with an growing physique rely.
One of many first victims that the crime wave claims is a violent poacher who lives subsequent door to Duszejko. Then others be a part of the ghastly aftermath: a police chief, a farmer, a neighborhood celeb with shady connections. Within the meantime, if solely individuals would take Duszejko’s instincts severely; that nature is lastly combating again and taking revenge from mankind for all their abuse and hurt, and study to learn the earthly indicators of lifeless deer and moody woods the way in which she does. However her warnings to all of the native folks fall on disturbingly deaf ears, with curt and misogynistic authorities dismissing her worries (amongst them is a routine breaking of looking legal guidelines) as crackpot theories from a loopy previous lady. Not less than Duszejko proves to have some individuals round her that she might allegedly rely upon—an fascinating and deeply mysterious bunch with distinct peculiarities you’d anticipate within the orbit of such an eccentric character. There’s Dyzio, an epileptic pc specialist who works on the police pressure. There’s Matoga, a long-time neighbor who discovers the physique of the lifeless poacher together with Duszejko. Additionally within the image is a younger lady on a heroic quest to regain the custody of her brother by any means mandatory.
Tailored from Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Useless, there’s a loud political edge to “Spoor,” one which offers with animal rights and patriarchy head on, if not a little bit heavy-handedly. In that regard, her story is a crowded one masking competing themes, genres and an array of multifaceted characters (a fair a romantic plot-line someplace in there), making one wonder if an episodic therapy would have suited the supply materials higher. Nonetheless, Mandat’s dedicated efficiency that wears the horrors of the story on its sleeve makes the affair greater than worthwhile. To not point out Holland’s cinematic mastery itself that costs each body of her misty, mud-ridden and chilly-to-the-touch movie with the grandeur and ominous aliveness of the character that surrounds Duszejko’s world. (Delicate eyes ought to be warned that lifeless animal our bodies and associated grisly scenes received’t be unusual all through “Spoor.”) Whereas it doesn’t measure as much as among the director’s biggest equivalent to “In Darkness” and “Washington Sq.,” “Spoor” makes an unmistakable political assertion nonetheless, with Holland’s lens capturing the guts and soul of the animals among the movie’s despicable characters cruelly disregard.