2022, NR, 88 min. Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. Starring Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Isabelle Huppert.

REVIEWED By Alejandra Martinez, Fri., Dec. 9, 2022

In EO, Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski paints a striking portrait of modern-day Europe. It’s beautifully impressionistic at times, cold and cruel at others, and with a unique perspective: a donkey’s. An update of Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, EO follows the life and adventures of the titular main character as he changes hands and trots across Europe. After the circus that EO performs in goes bankrupt, he is carted off as repossessed property, and so begins our petite hero’s adventure. As EO travels from city to city while he seeks freedom, we are treated to something rare: a film that thrives in the limitations it sets for itself.

EO is mostly wordless, with few interruptions from humans, and this works in the film's favor. Indeed, the most emotionally effective moments do not stem from dialogue but from the gravity placed on certain shots and scenes. For instance, early in his journey EO is looking out at the rolling fields passing him by as he’s taken to his post-circus life. He watches a herd of horses, running and grazing at their leisure. We’re then treated to leisurely shots of the horses, warm sun glinting off of their bodies, cool grass below. EO’s desire for freedom in that moment is beautifully rendered and practically silent. It’s a tender gift the film never stops giving us: a glimpse into an animal’s soul.

The harsher scenes are similarly effective because of the distance between what we’re seeing and understanding as an audience and how EO is viewing it – with no understanding of the consequences of what’s unfolding. For instance, when EO ends up as an unwitting mascot for a winning football team, he detachedly gets taken along for a party after. When the losing team finds the group and decides to take out their anger on the small donkey, it’s deeply upsetting – not only because of the violence, but because it’s being done to an innocent who doesn’t understand why it’s happening. The world turns red here, a recurring color choice that is striking and stirring every time it’s used, underscoring the emotional nature of the given situation. Here, the fear is palpable.

If the visually inventive nature of the film isn’t enough to entice you, the few human performances in the film are worth seeing, too (hello, Isabelle Huppert). Pure, tender cinema is rare nowadays, but EO delivers.


Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500, 512/291-3158, www.southwesttheaters.com

$6.50 children and senior tickets (all-day), $5 Tuesdays (all tickets), Bargain Matinees before 5pm daily.

Sun., Jan. 15

11:20am, 1:40, 4:10

Mon., Jan. 16

11:20am, 1:40, 4:10

Tue., Jan. 17

11:20am, 1:40, 4:10

Wed., Jan. 18

11:20am, 1:40, 4:10

Thu., Jan. 19

11:20am, 1:40, 4:10

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