The Word (Anna Kazejak, 2014)
The Word screens on Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11. More information can be found at the Chicago International Film Festival's website here.
Our virtual footprint leaves an undeniable mark, and with that, filmmakers yearn to translate that virtual arena over to film. More often than not these are tales of hyper-sensitive caution, with Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children serving as a prime offender - perpetuating this notion that the internet and our digitized social interactions are the harbingers to the apocalypse. It’s a problem that’s coursing throughout a lot of cinema - this preoccupation with the evils of the Internet and our digital interactions - and Anna Kazejak’s The Word fits snug within this realm of fear-peddling nonsense.
The Word begins with a Skype conversation between two warring high school lovers. Lila (Eliza Rycembel) offers to take back the emotionally distraught Janek (Mateusz Wieclawek) if he were to “take care” of the young cheerleader that he’s grown fond of. Her delusions and his dependency are only heightened as the picture descends down a narrow and bleak road. This exercise in digital miscommunication often registers as relentlessly serious and self-important, with Kazejak jarringly utilizing a naturalistic visual palette with something so grossly overdramatic. Teens are inherently the worst but this amplifies their quandaries to a nauseating degree, moreso than Gia Coppola’s similarly problematic Palo Alto. Kazejak knows how to frame a scene and in general, has a keen eye, but she unfortunately services this material in a way that only highlights its faults.