Spoor Image


By Alex Saveliev | February 11, 2021

Her elegiac film keeps you on edge: it feels like an inhalation of fresh-scented grass at one moment before shredding your senses with devastating imagery and then splitting your sides with laughter. Two characters smell each other fervently in an animalistic lovemaking sequence. Janina keeps animals’ bloody remains in neatly labeled boxes in case they get cloned later – what she foresees as the only “form of reparation” to the inflicted devastation. She shows up at a mushroom gatherers’ party dressed up as a wolf.

In a way, Spoor is another tale of a holocaust. In the words of one of the characters, said holocaust is the casual destruction of nature by humanity, which regards the animals it destroys as a lesser species. Holland adores nature and mourns it; her movie is a call to arms, a bitterly sardonic indictment of us all as utter barbarians. Just look at those queasy close-ups of human mouths, explaining, chewing, spouting nonsense.


“…a marvel to unravel.”

But it’s not all grotesque or heightened. Jolanta Dylewska and Rafal Paradowski’s breathtaking cinematography captures seasonal changes, from mist rising through celestial valleys in the fall, to the snow-coated barren forests of the winter. Antoni Lazarkiewicz deserves a special mention for his score, vocalizing the inner workings of Janina’s complex mind, as well as emphasizing the colossal power of nature.

Mandat is riveting. Her Janina is vivacious, determined, funny (watch her stick her tongue out at a faculty member who scorned her or oink at a boar who wanders into her shed), zealous if not a little crazed, judging people by the astrological signs. “He may have testosterone-related autism,” she remarks nonchalantly. To wage war in a crazy world, you have to be a little crazy, right?

There are some odd detours, a few prolonged stretches of Holland losing focus. But you know what? Forget the blemishes. It’s a gift that Holland is still producing thought-provoking fare like this. There’s a remarkable little moment wherein Janina spreads her arms to a rising apricot dawn, and a lens flare produces a tiny emerald reflection of what looks like swaying branches. There is something deeply ethereal about this shot. Holland’s films contain worlds within worlds, and, like the rest of them, Spoor is a marvel to unravel.

Spoor (2021)

Directed and Written: Agnieszka Holland

Starring: Agnieszka Mandat, Wiktor Zborowski, Jakub Gierszal, Patricia Volny, Miroslav Krobot, Borys Szyc, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Spoor Image

"…a bitterly sardonic indictment of us all as utter barbarians."

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