Sweat


In the world of social media influencers, image is everything.

(2020) Drama (MUBI) Magdalena Kolesnik, Julian Swiezewski, Aleksandra Konieczna, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Tomasz Orpinski, Lech Lotocki, Magdalena Kuta, Dominika Biernat, Katarzyna Dziurska, Wiktoria Filus, Bartosz Sak, Edgar Griszczuk, Dorota Zieciowska, Katarzyna Cynke, Bogna Defecinska, Mateusz Król, Andrzej Soltysik, Anna Kalczynska. Directed by Magnus von Horn

 

We have always been a celebrity-obsessed culture, but the very nature of celebrity has changed. Ubiquitous social media “influencers,” popular vloggers whose popularity has led to companies vying for their endorsements, has brought things to new depths – although to be fair, something as shallow as celebrity has no depth to speak of.

Polish fitness guru Sylwia (Kolesnik) has more than 600,000 followers. She lives in a tony apartment in Warsaw, makes personal workout appearances in malls and posts incessantly about her daily life, often pimping energy drinks, workout equipment, workout wear and so on. She refers to her online followers as “My loves,” and her model-pretty face beams beatifically at the internet.

However, all is not rosy for Sylwia. Recently, in a moment of depression, she tearfully vlogged about her loneliness and her wish for a boyfriend she could love and who could love her back. Her sponsors are aghast; this goes against her upbeat image and being a downer could jeopardize her standing. She is stressing out over an upcoming appearance on a popular morning TV show that is far from locked down as well as the upcoming birthday celebration with her mother (Konieczka), with whom she has a not-so-warm relationship. And the topper is that she has herself a stalker (Król) who sits in his car outside her apartment building, watching her covertly as she walks her beloved Jack Russell terrier Jackson, masturbating as she does. There’s also her studly workout partner Klaudiusz (Swiezewski) with whom she has a platonic relationship – maybe.

The production design here is impressive. Sylwia’s world is cold and antiseptic, with lots of straight lines, bright neon colors and sterile atmospheres. It’s very modern – and very soulless, a commentary I think on the nature of internet celebrity. But is the dark side of being an influencer really so dark? There’s a scene late in the film where she runs into an old school friend whose life is considerably worse than her own, which does give her pause. Contrary to appearances, Sylwia is not dumb or even that shallow. Her image is carefully marketed and manipulated by Sylwia herself, and if she’s a bit jaded and cynical, it’s only because she achieved what she wanted to and discovered that the price for that achievement isn’t what she thought it would be.

The movie runs a little bit long – the worst culprit is the opening workout sequence that shows Sylwia and Klaudiusz endlessly doing various aerobics, high-fiving her followers and in general working up quite a, umm, sweat. A little judicious editing here would have made the sequence more effective.

You can thank Kolesnik for that. Not only is she insanely beautiful and fit, there’s also a lot more to her than the average workout chick spouting affirmations and aphorisms. If her image is a shallow one, it’s only because she’s giving the people what they want, and more importantly, what she thinks her sponsors want. I like that von Horn doesn’t really indict the whole culture of Internet influencers and artificial celebrity – people famous for being famous. He lets us see both sides of the coin, as it were, and make up our own minds. After all, some people would consider Sylwia living her perfect life. Not among them, however, is Sylwia herself.

The movie is currently out in theaters, but will be available on the MUBI arthouse subscription channel in about three weeks.

REASONS TO SEE: Kolesnik is a charismatic lead.
REASONS TO AVOID: A little bit long, particularly during the opening workout scene.
FAMILY VALUES: There is profanity and some sexual content.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Kolesnik is primarily a stage actress in her native Poland; this is her first appearance as a lead in a feature film.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 7/1/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 98% positive reviews; Metacritic: 74/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Social Ones
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
The Holy Game

New Releases for the Week of July 2, 2021


THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS

(DreamWorks) Starring the voices of Alec Baldwin, James Marsden, Amy Sedaris, Ariana Greenblatt, Eva Longoria, Jimmy Kimmel. Directed by Tom McGrath

Over the years, the Boss Baby and his big brother have slowly drifted apart, but a new Boss Baby comes into their lives to reunite the brothers and bring them into a whole new family business.The movie is simultaneously debuting on Peacock’s premium service (not the free one, the one with no ads) for no additional charge.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG (for rude humor, mild language and some action)

Against the Current

(Zeitgeist) Veiga Grétarsdóttir. The journey of Grétarsdóttir, born a man 44 years ago but after having a wife and child, felt she could no longer live that way and transitioned into a female. Now she is taking on a challenge that would give most of us pause; kayaking alone around Iceland counterclockwise, “against the current,” a feat judged as difficult as climbing K2.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: LGBTQ Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

The Forever Purge

(Universal) Ana de la Reguera, Josh Lucas, Will Patton, Cassidy Freeman. As the government begins to lose control, a group of marauders decide that the Purge should last longer than 12 hours. Why not make it the norm? A family of ranchers and their workers must find a way to survive a purge that never ends.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for strong, bloody violence and language throughout)

The God Committee

(Vertical) Julia Stiles, Janeane Garofalo, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Hedaya. When a donor heart arrives at a New York hospital whose recipient passes away before surgery can begin, the transplant committee is left with an hour to decide which of three other patients should get the heart, bringing into play ethics, morality and money.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Shiva Baby

(Utopia) Rachel Sennott, Danny Deferrari, Fred Melamed, Polly Draper. While sitting shiva for a family friend with her parents, a college student has awkward encounters with her ex-girlfriend and her current sugar daddy.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: LGBTQ Comedy
Now Playing: Cinematique
Rating: NR

Summer of Soul

(Searchlight) Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chris Rock, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King. In 1969, the same summer as Woodstock, the Harlem Cultural Festival which promoted African-American music and unity, but whereas the former became a cultural phenomenon with a hit documentary, the latter was filmed but the footage was never seen – until now. Airing simultaneously on Hulu, but for that big concert sound you might want to catch this in your local theater.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Music Documentary
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Avenue 16, AMC Classic New Smyrna, AMC Disney Springs, AMC Lake Square, AMC West Oaks, CMX Merritt Square, CMX Plaza Orlando, Enzian Theater, Fashion Square Premiere
Rating: PG-13 (for some disturbing images, smoking and brief drug material)

Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

(Kino Lorber) Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Dick Cavett, David Frost. Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote were two of the great literary giants of the mid-20th century. They were also friends, and that friendship was often a combustible one. Both spent their lives finding their identity as gay men in a world hostile to gay men, geniuses striving to bring their artistic triumphs into being and deeply wounded by sometimes toxic family relationships. Much of this was expressed in conversations and correspondence with one another.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: LGBTQ Documentary
Now Playing: Cinematique On-Demand, Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Zola

(A24) Riley Keough, Taylour Paige, Colman Domingo, Nelcie Souffrant. A waitress and a stripper hook up for a wild road trip to Florida that turns into a bizarre nightmare.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for language throughout, graphic nudity, a sexual assault, strong sexual content and violence)

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

First Date
Kid Candidate
Let Us In
Long Story Short
Scenes From an Empty Church
Some of Our Stallions
Sun Children
Till Death

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Boss Baby: Family Business
The Forever Purge
Summer of Soul
Till Death