- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : Afterimage

| June 9, 2017

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Afterimage.

I don’t want to be too harsh on this film. And that isn’t to say that the film has qualities that warrant being harsh on it, far from it. But this is the director, Andrzej Wajda’s, last film. If you haven’t heard of Wajda, no worries! Admittedly I was no familiar with Wajda before going into this film. But in a quick run down of his work, Wajda is a legendary Polish director who won the Palme D’Or and an honorary Academy Award. Wajda also directed this film at 90 years old before passing away before the film’s premiere. So I don’t want to be too harsh on this film because I know fans of Wajda are going to have a different reaction. From reading about the film’s premiere it is clear there are strong emotions attached to this film, especially considering the film’s subject matter.

Afterimage follows an Avant-Garde painter living in Poland a few years before Polish October. In other words, it’s about how much Communism in Poland sucked. As the film progresses you get to see the painter evolve from being a well-beloved art profession and notable painter to the decay and eventual demise to the painter. It is not a feel good kind of film. It is more of a “dear god everything is awful and nothing is going to work out and I need to stop taking everything I have for granted” kind of film. After everything in the film, the only thing I take away from the film is that Communism is awful and that living in Poland during Stalin’s empire was also awful.

I think the aspect of the film that shines the most is the cinematography. There are a lot of shots that show the decay of both Poland and the painter. The color palette of the film slowly evolves from a bright and vivid color scheme to a dark and murky color scheme. By the end of the film, we see the world as almost dystopian in nature while the beginning is almost comically bright and happy. I remember seeing the opening scene and thinking this is too happy, possibly to contrast the rest of the film and the murkiness of the scenes. Something in the beginning that I thought was a flaw ended up being one of the strongest parts of the film.

I think the acting in the film is quite good, especially by the lead actor Bogusław Linda. Linda, being a 63-year-old actor at the time of production, looks around ninety in this film. And where the rest of the cast is forgettable in terms of their characters, they give hefty performances. The only performance that I would say isn’t spectacular is the girl who plays Linda’s daughter. But even that, it never got me to roll my eyes or wish her scene was over, it just didn’t fully grasp my attention.

Another thing to keep in mind with this film is that it is extremely slow paced. Don’t expect anything to get exciting. There is one scene in an art gallery that is kind of exciting, but other than that, you are watching an elderly man get sad and depressed for an hour and a half. So if you don’t like that, do not watch this film. Even by my standards, I was getting a little bored by the film. Partly because the film is pure sadness and decay, which I applaud as this is a true story and Wajda did not simplify the film for an audience. At the end of the day, the film has a very bold stance and it sticks to it. It shows you how God awful the Communist Regime was and how it affected the people of Poland specifically.

As time goes on I do like this film more, or I think a more accurate term would be that I respect it more. But at the end of the day that isn’t making me think it’s a better film in general. And where I wish it wasn’t true, I do feel as though I will forget this film in due time. There isn’t a lot of this film that would make me think about it or want to revisit it. One of the constant struggles of extremely depressing films is that they don’t draw much from me in terms of lasting image. Which is ironic given the title and message of this film.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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