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  Sweat Keeping A High Profile
Year: 2020
Director: Magnus von Horn
Stars: Magdalena Kolesnik, Julian Sweisewski, Aleksandra Konieczna, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Tomasz Orpinski, Lech Lotocki, Magdalena Kuta, Dominika Biernat, Katarzyna Dziurska, Wiktoria Filus, Bartosz Sak, Edgar Giszczuk, Dorota Zieczioska, Katarzina Cynke
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sylwia Zajac (Magdalena Kolesnik) is a social media influencer who takes her job very seriously, since this takes the form of being a fitness guru, involving personal appearances to lead exercise routines in front of an audience of her fans, and of course an endless stream of video posts to her media accounts where those self-same fans can hang on her every word and recommendation. That latter is important, because it is where she gets her income, and the OK from Sylwia is pretty much a guarantee of thousands of sales if the companies can get her to endorse her products. But a recent post has the businesses worried...

Seems they're not keen on the clip where Sylwia opened up about her loneliness and lack of love in her life - is that really what someone supposedly popular should be bringing to the world's attention? Shouldn't she keep her private life private? But of course, that would mean her private life and public face were in any way separate, which you could argue they are not, as she has put her entire personality out there to give to her fans, and in return they offer adulation. And money. There is a suspicion that in the back of our protagonist's mind there is the awareness that if she doesn't keep the audiences entertained, then bang goes her cash flow.

So are we seeing the real Sylwia in writer and director Magnus von Horn's would-be expose of the influencer industry? After all, who doesn't like to hear a story of how much damage the internet can do to people, especially those who make a living out of self-promotion since they are regarded by those who do not follow them as exhibiting the worst kind of hubris, that assumption they are fascinating and therefore others must find them as engrossing as they do themselves. Naturally, some humanity is lost between the real life person and the image they project on the screen, but von Horn displayed some sympathy for Sylwia that you might not have anticipated,

She was not there to be torn down as a fake and a fraud, she was there as a character study, and no matter how unforgiving the film got in its tone, we never lost sight that Sylwia was a young woman who had become trapped in this cycle of sharing herself with those she meets only fleetingly, yet treats them as if they are her best buddies, and this shaky set-up is reflected back at her (Kolesnik, in every scene in extreme closeup, embodies this with great skill). It is a house of cards that can only topple eventually, and the drama that unfolds will have you convinced that will happen as we watch, however it doesn't quite, and rather cynically Sylwia feeds it back into her online pity party to keep her brand alive. This should by all rights turn us off her completely, but somehow, just like those largely unseen fans, we would prefer if she succeeded when her existence appears so fragile.

There were two significant fans in this drama, one with more screen time than the other. The lesser seen one was a woman Sylwia meets in a shopping mall, and greets her like an old friend - we have to pause briefly and ask, is this someone she knows? But nope, it's just a fan, insisting they chat during which she tells the influencer about her miscarriage which would be overshare for any stranger met in the street, but for this girl it's par for the course, it's just what her fans do with her. Even more discomfiting than that is the stalker who parks his car outside her apartment building and when she tries to confront him, begins masturbating. He later sends her a private apology video, telling her he is as lonely as she is, but next day he's back - does he have a nasty surprise coming. When Sylwia attends her mother's birthday party, it's almost comical as she unthinkingly makes the occasion about herself (they play her fitness DVD!), but you can see this trait is down to her mother not paying her much attention. Full of telling details like this, Sweat may not cut to the heart, but was food for thought. Music by Piotr Kurek.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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