Sylwia’s Stalker

Sweat

Director: Magnus Von Horn

Cast: Magdalena Kolesnik, Julian Swiezewski, Aleksandra Konieczna, Zbigniew Zamachowski

Polish Entry for the European Film Festival 2020

The Polish entry for the European Film Festival is director Magnus Von Horn’s intimate examination of the moral duplicity of a social media star and fitness trainer Sylwia wonderfully played by the beautiful actress Magdalena Kolesnik in his film Sweat set in Warsaw and surrounding areas. Sweat was also part of the official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival held virtually this year.

Sweat presents Warsaw as a glossy and sophisticated contemporary European capital complete with upmarket apartment buildings and thriving shopping malls and the main character Sylwia is a vain and ambitious social media star whose only concern is how many followers she has on Instagram and whether her beloved dog Jackson is loved.

Director Von Horn follows his main character Sylwia around as he guides the viewer through her hollow and utterly vacuous existence as she tries to deal with her mother Basia played by Aleksandra Konieczna and her new boyfriend Fryderyk played by Zbigniew Zamachowski (Three Colours: Red, Three Colours: Blue, Three Colours: White).

Sylwia also has a rather weird relationship with her male fitness star Klaudiusz wonderfully played by Julian Swiezewski who she sexually manipulates to beat up a male stalker who has been following Sylwia and become erotically obsessed with. An incident occurs late at night whereby Klaudiusz forces Sylwia to directly confront and assist her stalker.

Besides the moral repugnance of the main character, Sweat is more of a direct commentary on the age of obsessive social media and as the overly long film portrays Sylwia does not come clean about her ordeal with a stalker but rather seeks the self-congratulatory limelight of Polish Television as she does more to increase her social media visibility and her brand by ironically portraying herself as a victim of her own success.

Sweat is a fascinating and incisive portrayal of social media obsession but unfortunately it needed to be drastically edited since basically every frame of the film focuses on the life of Sylwia and her media obsessed fitness world and its inherent darkness. This microscopic obsession does tend to drag the film down and perhaps the viewer might find the subject matter tedious without their being any form of cathartic release or even an alternative point of view.

Sweat gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and unfortunately is not the best Polish film I have seen, but is certainly the most bizarre in terms of subject matter: vanity and self-obsession.

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