Hey guys! Hope you've got your daily workout out of the way and you're ready for some cinematic experiences now! A big surprise, it's about an influencer, can I get some reaction emojis in the chat if you're excited? Swedish director Magnus von Horn's Polish-language sophomore feature Sweat (same title in Poland) drops you off at a shopping centre in Poland where you meet Sylwia Zajac (Magdalena Kolesnik), a fitness influencer who is instructing a workout session. From there on, you follow her around for couple of days as she meets an old classmate, books a TV gig, attends a hectic birthday party, talks endlessly to her social media followers and finds out that she has a stalker. All these parts of her life are contrasted by her recent, vulnerable post where she has admitted to feeling very lonely and unfulfilled, despite her online popularity.
Just a preface or a warning, depending on your particular taste, Sweat is more equal parts loud and quiet character study than it is a plot-driven drama about a girl and her stalker, for example. Best thing that the film does in that realm is immediately sell you the idea that this is indeed Sylwia and you're just cruising around with her as she does her thing. It's an astute portrayal of the profession and the kind of distance it creates between the person and their audience, whether or not some of the audience feels close enough to Sylwia to open themselves up when meeting her. Von Horn's direction also finds the right moments showcase that as a lot of times we are observing Sylwia's face only but other people are roaming around spaces and they're not very close to you as a viewer. One specific highlight is the birthday sequence when there is a lot of speaking over others, nervous movement and multiple characters contributing to the scene.
When you say that you buy what the movie is selling, in this case Sylwia as an influencer but also as a loner, no small part of that is Kolesnik acting that role out. Someone more knowing can talk more about the workouts and nutrition but all the vague jargon about hyping yourself up and vulnerability that the character shows later on, feel very pure because Kolesnik does small things like drop the ''influencer smile'' and let her shoulders and vocal pitch relax a bit. Mostly von Horn's film does as well as it can (it could've dug deeper if the story was more specific or adventurous) but there are few moments that needed to be sharper. There are conversations and shots of surroundings that pad the runtime too much because they go on for too long, they also erase some tension that felt vital for the emotional punches to land along with some awkward cinematography - notably in an uncomfortable scene between Sylwia and her hookup Klaudiusz (Julian Swiezewski) where the camera is shaking like an 90's action scene was happening. Similar thing happens with the stalker, in both cases the outcome feels off because tension was stripped away, leaving Sylwia in a place that we as an audience don't really know.
Smileys: Characterisation, directing, Magdalena Kolesnik
Frowneys: Some issues with editing and cinematography
A good reminder to pack your own lunch to eat alone, reducing the time you have to spend with your relatives.