My Friend The Polish Girl is really about the manipulative nature of documentary and how filmmakers might not even notice that is what they’re doing. It’s also about the symbiosis documentarian and subject attain throughout the process of filming, and ultimately the space that is left empty in both documentarian and subject once the cameras are off. The film-within-a-film formula really works to tell the story and truly show the separation of documentarian and subject, since we never see Katie and Alicja on-screen together except for once in an awkward dancing scene.
Aneta Piotrowska is excellent as a damaged, lonely woman who’s just trying to be happy and make everyone else around her happy as well. We gain sympathy for her, even though she isn’t always the most sympathetic character. Although we don’t see Emma Friedman-Cohen that much on-screen, her performance as the person behind the curtain is essential to the success of the story. The chemistry between Alicja and Katie is great, making the viewer sometimes forget that they aren’t watching an actual documentary.
“…shows the dark side of female friendships and documentary filmmaking in an interesting way…”
There are some artistic elements at play in the film, too. There’s often on-screen titles that sometimes make sense and sometimes don’t. There’s emojis as well, which I’m not entirely sure what the point of them being there. Perhaps it’s a commentary about Generation Z that I missed, but there’s not enough of them to be annoying. There’s some amazing animation dispersed throughout by Mathieu and Mattias Rok that illustrates the predatory nature of documentary and the unhealthy relationship that Katie and Alicja form.
Altogether, My Friend The Polish Girl shows the dark side of female friendships and documentary filmmaking in an interesting way. Writer/directors Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek came up with an extremely unique idea and did a pretty great job of pulling it off. I think that the film is a great piece of artistic commentary on filmmaking and maybe some documentarians could give it a look and maybe not be so exploitative of their subjects next go-round. Not that all documentarians exploit their subjects, but some really, really do.