“Barren land” – is one of the many expressions that are made towards the film “Erotica 2022”. Are the crushing reviews adequate for the film? Despite appearances, “Erotica 2022” is not an embarrassment-inducing overall flop. The directors of each segment – Anna Kazejak, Anna Jadowska, Kasia Adamik, Jagoda Szelc, Olga Chajdas – are talented and skillful in handling filmmaking. The individual shorts bear the hallmarks of the author’s style, the stories glide forward quite smoothly, and the formal aspects of the film look flawless. The acting is also at a high level – Agata Buzek, Monika Pikuła, Agnieszka Żulewska, Sara Celler-Jezierska and Malgorzata Bela play the roles entrusted to them with great sensitivity and intuition.
Table of Contents:
- Visual aspects of the film
- Ubiquitous chaos in “Erotica 2022”
- A safe way out of the situation
- What about the sex?
Visual aspects of the film
The visual aspect of the film “Erotica 2022” deserves praise, especially the costumes and set design, which refer to retrofuturism – a trend in art to create visions of the future combining modern technology and design of past decades. In the etude “The Disappearance of Mrs. B” we have an aesthetically satisfying mixing of technological innovations with the interiors of communist times, but the subsequent parts of the anthology do not particularly try to follow this pattern. The “Bear” segment shows almost post-apocalyptic poverty and neglect, while “Strong” is set amidst minimalist luxury design. The novella “If you sit in silence for a long time, other animals will come to you” takes us to a gray block of flats, while the action of “Night Shift” takes place in a city setting reminiscent of modern Warsaw.
Ubiquitous chaos in “Erotica 2022”
Chaos reigns not only at the level of imagery, but also in terms of the concept of the depicted world. Although, according to the description, “Erotica 2022” presents a society in which “women are products, motherhood is a duty, and sexuality is suppressed,” the scattered here and there crumbs of this brutal reality do not create a vision that is either coherent or engaging. Despite the hiring of well-known female writers – Olga Tokarczuk, Grazyna Plebanek, Joanna Bator, Ilona Witkowska and Gaia Grzegorzewska – “Erotice 2022” unfortunately limps along with the most important element – the script. The storylines of the segments are drowning in banality, the characters are bland, and the aborted (open) endings are infuriating. Even if the starting point is quite interesting, as in the case of the experimental “Strongly” by the Adamik/Bator duo, the story quickly sinks into the shallows of superficiality.
A safe way out of the situation
On the one hand, the authors of the anthology follow the paths trodden by Western filmmakers and filmmakers, while on the other hand they use their achievements in a reassuring manner, as if convinced that Polish audiences are not yet ready for more. There are admittedly some attempts to reevaluate motherhood, confront violence against women, toxic masculinity and a culture that objectifies women’s bodies, but the takeaways blatantly glaring in their shoveliness and derivativeness.
What about the sex?
What then of sex, supposedly the main theme of the painting? Well, not the best either. The erotic scenes may be quite well directed, but that’s about it. You won’t find here a breaking of taboos, or even an attempt to find a new perspective. Instead, it’s very vanilla, heteronormative and cis-gendered – but after all, that’s not what you should expect from a feminist-involved Anno Domini 2020 film.
Decent direction and a successful visual layer are not enough to cover the intellectual emptiness and sheer boredom oozing from Netflix’s production. Unfortunately, “Erotica 2022” does not bring anything interesting to either domestic feminism or domestic cinema, and is one big waste of time – both for viewers and filmmakers.
Read more about cinematography in the article Mothers, wives, lovers, or women in film.