“EO” is the gorgeously hypnotic drama about a donkey whose journey will break your heart

Gorgeously filmed, experimental in model, and very humanistic, “EO,” recounts the experiences of the titular donkey — usually from the animal’s position of look at. The film is Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s (“Four Nights With Anna”) homage to Robert Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar,” and it arrives with bona fides, acquiring received the Jury Prize at the Cannes Movie Pageant before this calendar year and is Poland’s selection as their formal Oscar entry for Finest Global Film. 

EO is very first found underneath a purple strobe light with surging new music. He is a circus animal who is cared for by Kasandra (Sandra Drzymalska) who is part of the Cyrk Orion. She feeds EO and gives him passion, and the donkey is wonderfully expressive even as the digital camera follows him trotting along. But protesters versus animal abuse in the circus trigger EO to be “repossessed” and taken from Kasandra. Viewers can see the disappointment in his eyes. 

The film then demonstrates all the distinct activities EO has on his have as he moves by way of the Polish countryside. The tale is, of training course, a metaphor with EO as the innocent who encounters all varieties of people. One particular could liken the animal to an immigrant who is pressured to work — EO is witnessed hitched to a cart in his early scenes — or a image for Poland and how people today in the region take care of him, kindly and cruelly. There are little ones who pet him and trip him and other people who exploit him. In a single cute moment, he munches on a carrot tied all over his neck. There are individuals who are light, these as Kasandra, who locates him in a single charming scene and feeds him a muffin for his birthday. His braying when she leaves him is heartbreaking. 

There are numerous striking scenes of EO on his individual. He watches horses operate no cost from the captivity of a trailer. Just one great sequence has EO out in character at night time, and he sees frogs in the drinking water, a spider in its world wide web, an owl on a tree department, a howling wolf and a racoon scurrying prior to lasers and gunshots spoil nature’s tranquility. There is also a fabulous drone shot as a result of a forest and alongside a river that is scored to Pawel Mykietyn’s sonorous songs. Even a tracking shot of EO trotting by a lighted tunnel is mesmerizing. (Michal Dymek did the beautiful cinematography.) And a spectacular landscape is shrewdly noticed in widescreen at first but later from among the slats that are penning EO in on a truck. (Freedom/captivity is a sturdy concept below.)

But as the movie progresses, it has EO interacting with people. When he is in close proximity to a soccer pitch, EO has an effect on a recreation in the course of a penalty kick. He is taken to the afterparty by the winning team, and has smoke blown in his facial area. He is a passive participant as home windows are damaged but EO is beaten by hooligans. There are issues raised about his suffering as he is handed all over and EO finishes up on a farm wherever foxes are killed for their fur. His steps there involve kicking a violent male, which ought to make audiences cheer. 

“EO” does abruptly shift its storylines, which can be disconcerting, and his character can be in the qualifications for some of the drama. A single of the far more attention-grabbing sequences has EO currently being transported by Mateo (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz) a trucker. EO is not in the body when Mateo cleans himself up in a relaxation stop washroom or offers to aid someone, nor does the animal see the shocking act of violence that happens as this scene unfolds, but the movie implies EO senses it. (Viewers will come to feel it also.) 

Furthermore, when a young male, Vito (Lorenzo Zurzolo) encounters EO, he wonders if he is saving the donkey or thieving him. As he returns house to his Italian villa, he has a tense trade with The Countess (Isabelle Huppert) that will involve her breaking plates and tossing handfuls of silverware all around in a scene complete of drama. Once more, it would seem a bit far afield from EO’s tale, but it is interesting, and Huppert is dazzling in her cameo. 

1 sequence, all-around the film’s midpoint, characteristics a robotic animal, which most likely only emphasizes the natural beauty of EO, a serious one particular, but an earlier scene of a horse getting tenderly washed and groomed even though EO watches, jealously, conveys his alienation more properly. 

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These is the film’s narrative logic, and potentially it is greatest to just allow the film wash across the display, not unlike a hypnotic collection of gradual-movement scenes of h2o in close proximity to the film’s conclusion. Viewers can make connections or interpret people today, or actions, or feelings as ideal. EO is not likely to choose, but he is likely to tell you what to assume or really feel, which is possibly the magnificence and brilliance of this unheard of film.

“EO” opens in New York Metropolis Nov. 18 with a system launch to follow.

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movie evaluations by Gary Kramer

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