Pros: plot, which is based on travel to worlds from other films; Jean Reno to attract the attention of the audience Cons: presentation of negative characters; most scenes are not fully thought out; naivety “Polina and the Mystery of the Film Studio”
Directed by Olias Barco
Starring Polina Pechenenko (Polina), Jean Reno (guide to the world of cinema), Virginie Ledoyen (Polina’s mother), Vasily Virastyuk (Viking), Severija Janusauskaite (Varvara), Evnika Saadvakass (boxer girl), Saul Rubinek (film studio director) , Edouard Ber (chemist), etc.
Companies Wild Tribe Films, Kinorob
Year of release 2019
“Polina and the Secret of the Film Studio” is a film co-produced by Ukraine, Belgium and France. The State Film Agency of Ukraine allocated 10.8 million hryvnia for its filming (which amounted to 20% of the total cost). The director of the film was the Frenchman Olias Barco, who also took part in writing the script.
This is far from the first Ukrainian film in the adventure genre that was made with the support of the state (before that, the films “Strong Outpost” and “Bobot and the Energy of the Universe” were widely released). In contrast, “Polina and the Secret of the Film Studio” is remembered even before the official premiere – Jean Reno appears in the film’s trailer. Of course, one becomes curious in advance what role the French actor, who last appeared on screens two years ago, will play.
The plot of the new film shows the story of Polina – after the death of her parents, she remains to live in the house of an evil aunt and her son. They treat the girl poorly and are clearly hiding something. One day, Polina begins to hear a voice repeating her name. The girl follows him and meets a mysterious guide (Jean Reno), who asks the heroine to come to the film studio. This place keeps the secrets of the past, so in order to find out the cause of her parents’ death, the girl will have to penetrate to the other side of the screen, where the movie characters still continue their lives after the end of the credits.
In principle, the idea of traveling through films seems very successful. But there are some problems with its implementation. It seems that the creators had a grandiose idea, but at the script writing stage they did not have the patience to work out the details.
I don’t really want to compare it with Hollywood cinema, but I still have to – in any films where there are tense moments, the action scenes never end after one act. Usually they think through every step of the character, the logic and consequences of his decisions. The film “Polina and the Secret of the Film Studio” really lacks this. There is space for large-scale events here, but it is being used rather irresponsibly. Instead of filming a few exciting, detailed scenes, the film crew instead choreographs a dozen abrupt and often rather meaningless incidents.
Against their background, one episode is still remembered, which, judging by the editing, was given great emphasis. This is a fight scene between Vasily Virastyuk, who played the role of a Viking, and a girl boxer – it has choreographed movements and dynamic music. True, the director fails to maintain such a pace; further events again become abrupt.
It is surprising how diligently they add new characters to the plot, and how in the end, unfortunately, there is not enough time to reveal them. But the film pays a lot of attention to the main negative characters. Among them is Aunt Varvara (played by Lithuanian actress Severija Janusauskaite), who, like Cruella from 101 Dalmatians, walks around with a cigarette holder. Varvara’s son (played by the Frenchman Eloy Alfaro) is shown as a deliberately evil and narrow-minded man, whose anger is emphasized by skin rashes and lameness. To be honest, it’s not his appearance that is off-putting, but the way the screenwriter uses his appearance for dubious characteristics.
As for Jean Reno, there is very little of him on screen. The actor appears in the film as a hologram, which gives brief instructions and then disappears into thin air. So the young actress Polina Pechenenko, playing the main role, did not have the chance to share the set with the famous Frenchman. But, it’s worth saying, the girl looks good on camera even without him, and in general she copes well with her simple role.
Interestingly, when watching the film, its dubbing is very noticeable. This is the result of the fact that the film was shot not only in Ukrainian, but also in French and English. The soundtrack remained in its original form; its creation and execution was entrusted to Dmitry Shurov.
Despite the efforts of the international film crew, the film “Polina and the Secret of the Film Studio” leaves mixed impressions. It doesn’t live up to the level of a quality and entertaining movie. A good idea is spoiled by naive scenes and not fully thought out episodes. At the same time, the film features cinematography by the Frenchman Thierry Arbogast (who worked with Luc Besson) and an entertaining idea about the ability to travel between films – for which you can rate it a point higher.
The film is interesting to watch in order to assess the direction in which Ukrainian fantasy is moving. Most likely, “Polina and the Secret of the Film Studio” will appeal more to children’s audiences; adults may find many moments too simple