Tower. A Bright Day (2018)


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I have no idea what this film is about. If there were signs of a meaning, I missed them and felt confounded as the credits rolled.

Directed by Jagoda Szelc, it unrolls as a slightly off-kilter family drama, soaked in the heat of a rural summer with verdant fields, hushed forests and a constant insect hum. Kaja (Malgorzata Szczerbowska) joins her sister Mula (Anna Krotoska) and brother Andrzej (Rafal Kwietniewski) at Mula’s country house after a long absence. Kaja seems dreamy and benign but Mula is unhappy, quickly warning her of what she can and can’t say and do.

The reason for the reunion is to celebrate Mula’s daughter Nina’s (Laila Hennessy) first holy communion and Nina seems to be at the heart of the familial discord. Raised as Mula’s daughter, we find out early on that she is in fact Kaja’s daughter but is unaware of it. The implication is that Kaja has been unfit to parent, perhaps institutionalised, and her return is an unwelcome one.

Not a lot happens but some of the things that do happen are strange. The camera singles out Kaja, showing us through sound and visual isolation that she sees and hears things that others don’t. We don’t know whether to trust her or not, whether to believe in her or Mula. There are some sub-plots that may be meaningful – a lost tourist, the disorientation of the priest. The tension escalates a little, but through the soundtrack more than the narrative, and then something horrific happens and with such banality that it is all the more shocking.

The ending is odd and ambiguous, but not in a way that provokes an understanding of a deeper meaning. It left me confounded and provoked one audience member to lob an empty water bottle at the screen and verbally express his disappointment. I know how he felt.

Have you seen this film? Please tell me what it was about in the comments below.

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