Alicja Wonderland Movie Review

Alicja Wonderland
Short Film
Directed by Martin Gauvreau
Landlocked: Thursday, August 21, 8:35pm

Alicja Wonderland is a surreal Polish exploration of human emotions. Those emotions are a bit hard to discern, however, as the mostly linear plot is interrupted several times by Alicja, a woman who is both reading the story unfolding in a different space and an active character in it. The short film opens simply enough, a young couple in love arriving at a forest retreat. “We’re lost in the woods!” the girlfriend happily declares against a gritty, saturated atmosphere. The claustrophobic feeling of this juxtaposition follows the film as the main character, Patryk, actually does become lost in the woods. Darker and deeper into an experience he never expected, the film takes viewers into an uncomfortable reality. The only entity who seems free in this closed world is Alicja, angel or fiend unknown, who chooses to leave the book she reads and join the strange scenario unfolding in the desolate woods. She appears strangely and suddenly, with a mere wink to the audience. She seduces the audience while at the same time alienating it, acting more and more eccentrically as Patryk realizes that though there may be escape from physical capture, it is much harder to escape the constraints he has given himself.

The 20-minute film is shot from two interesting viewpoints, that of the third-person spectator and the first-person perspective of Patryk, switching subtly into this unsettling view to get a better glimpse of Alicja in her element. The girlfriend who cheerfully jokes about being “lost” while on vacation disappears entirely—neither shown to us from a distance or through another’s eyes.

The film is markedly beautiful, but as I mentioned, enigmatic. Patryk is, in a sense, torn between two women, though any motivations are unknown for his indecisiveness. Is the exploration in the film one of love? Is it betrayal, loneliness, madness or the strange mixture of all of these which create the elaborate relationships we form? The film ends abruptly and with more questions than answers, though the fiercely constant force of Agnieszka Pekala as Alicja in this supposed wonderland seems to quell any remaining doubts of the power and intensity behind this ambitious film.