Melbourne Cinematheque- Angry Harvest: The films of Agnieszka Holland, Week 2

11 Oct

Olivier Olivier (1992), made ten years after Holland had immigrated to France, deals with issues of double identities, mysterious pasts, returning home, and the (dysfunctional) family structure. Shot throughout Paris and rural France the film follows the disappearance of the young Olivier (Gregoire Colin) which in turn highlights the problems within the family. Years later, the policeman who worked the case arrests a teenage prostitute in Paris and, realising that this could be the missing boy, reunites him with his family. Olivier’s reintroduction to the family results in further problems becoming apparent with old insecurities and jealousies arising again. As the family try to piece together what has happened during the missing years and how they will move forward with their lives, the viewer is piecing together what is being presented to them: Reality? Fiction? Fantasy?

The last film Holland made in her native Poland, A Lonely Woman (1981), was subsequently banned due to its undermining and critiquing of Polish communisms politics and totalitarian regime. Irena (Maria Chwaliborg) is a middle-aged woman who is raising her eight year old son and caring for a sick relative in the small town of Wroclaw. Determined to create a life for herself without the aid of others, Irena falls into a dysfunctional relationship with a crippled miner. Upon the death of her sickly relative Irena’s life takes another unwelcome turn, allowing Holland to further highlight the bureaucracies and corruption throughout Polish politics at the time.

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