Restrained like Lanthimos, Piotr Adamski’s debut western follows the fright of the law of retaliation: an eye for an eye. Horror and corruption in the rituals of conflicted polish families require their daughters to represent them and confront fear and suspicion behind the traditional code.
An old conflict between the Nowak and Kowalski families is a matter of medieval customary law. In a corrupted polish housing estate, murder is a procedure at the notary office, and young girls are introduced to legal gun culture. The daughters decide to change the ruthless rules and break the cycle of violence and terror, standing up to family pressure and the overwhelming ritual of revenge.
Constrained emotions and the game the girls play to survive portrays an aesthetic vision of hunter instinct. The subtle yet profound performances of Paulina Krzyżańska and Maja Pankiewicz play together in an empowering manner.
This engaging polish film is an unusual dystopian western directed by Piotr Adamski. The conceptual and enigmatic puzzle reveals fundamental social conditions in an alternative reality that make up a bittersweet revenge film.
Joanna Palmer BA Film and Screen Studies, London College of Communication
Eastern is streaming on Nov 5 & Nov 7.