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The Crack Magazine



Director: Jerzy Skolimowski

Stars: Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Isabelle Huppert

Octogenarian director Jerzy Skolimowski's reimagining of Robert Bresson’s ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’ is an inventive, audacious and stirring depiction of a donkey being shifted from pillar to post. We first encounter EO in a circus being petted lovingly by Polish dancer Kasandra (Dryzmalska), his performing partner in the ring. Then animal rights protestors turn up demanding that all live animals are released. Alas, good intentions have dire consequences and EO’s situation gets worse after he is freed and left to wander over the Polish/Italian border. The sound design and surrealist dream sequences indicate that this is a very different proposition to Bresson’s picture. EO is far more anthropomorphised than the silent suffering Balthazar, evidenced in a sequence where EO stares longingly at a flock of horses galloping thorough the fields. It also trades in that earlier film’s formalist rigour and asceticism in favour of striking imagery and ingeniously rhythmic and associative editing. Given the frequently harrowing subject matter, the end result is surprisingly sprightly and entertaining. A sequence with the normally always welcome Isabella Huppert as a haughty countess, however, feels distracting and incongruous.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm