The washed out, depressing landscape greets us at the beginning of this Polish film.
Film promises the bleak journey into the heart of rural Poland where our self-assured protagonist (Pole living in England) expects to meet his wife to be, seal the deal and start a new life with his beautiful Polish bride.
You gotta know a little something about Slavic weddings...they are drunken and unpredictable. Well, surely not all of them, but the mentality permits a bit of over-the-top behavior fueled by the good ole booze, for sure. Isn't it the same worldwide? Not like the rural Slavic wedding, no.
Hence, aside from some hints it's not easy to determine what's wrong with the groom. Yeah, he's seeing the unmarked grave and the skeleton, he's seeing ghost of a Jewish girl, he's twitching and having seizures...yep, the guy's possessed.
The story goes back and forth from in-laws trying to cover up the groom's bad state to dancing and drinking, but he's in such a bad shape it's no longer possible to hide. Finally the old Jewish professor attending the wedding gets called to examine the man, but....
The story ends before it has gotten a proper explanation, bit of backstory, just pieces of a dream, hints and photographs. We are left to fill in the blanks on our own, but it was an interesting ride, and the "clinging spirit" does not let go of a marked soul.
If you compare this possession film to (traditionally filmed) American films in the same vein, it's very different, and therein the key to the East European cinematography appreciation lies. It's extremely realistic, bleak, the mud is muddy and the sky is overcast; nothing is either romanticized or glamorous, rather very raw. There lies the dramatic effect, cause the world where the characters live is very much 'real', never dreamy, not even for supernatural activities' sake. The complexity of everyday life is stressed in all its ordinary, fleshy glory.
I find the dybbuk legend to be very interesting, it mostly appears in old German and Polish films, but like every demon it has its needs and its path, much like any other you're likely to encounter in western cinematography. Those demons, they all want the same, a living being to cling to and possess their soul so that the body can become a vessel. What then...well, I guess it's nice to be among humans again! Also, the most interesting thing here is the stark contrast between the world of living and the dead, the joy and sorrow, which can become one, which always live side by side, as one of the final shots reveal nicely. Nice film to ponder on, surely open to interpretation and one that demands multiple viewings to fully appreciate.
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