The Movie Waffler New to VOD - EO | The Movie Waffler

New to VOD - EO

New to VOD - EO
A donkey experiences the best and worst of humanity.

Review by Blair MacBride

Directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Sandra Drzymalska, Mateusz Kościukiewicz

EO poster

Nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards, EO is a gritty tale of a donkey's journey across modern Europe.

The film is centred around "EO" and his interactions with the good, the bad, and the ugly of humankind. Initially, we find him trapped in a cruel existence as a circus donkey. But as the film progresses, EO is fortuitously freed from the shackles of forced performance, and embarks upon a roaming expedition across the continent, encountering all sorts of personalities along the way.

EO review

Ever the docile onlooker, EO takes in the world around him in a particularly poignant yet relaxed way. The audience experiences this perspective with him as we see events unfold through the eyes of this gentle-natured creature, and the film displays a never ending cycle of EO's encounters: some treat the animal like a much-loved pet, but others serve wicked violence upon him. This leads us to question who really are the "beasts" in this world, undoubtedly one of this project's key messages.

As such, EO deals with the important theme of animal cruelty, and often shows a literal seeing eye into the suffering some animals are made to endure. The specific use of a grainy fish-eye lens (or a donkey-eye lens in this case) provides a real insight into the senses of the creature, and thus gives the film a likeable grittiness - director Jerzy Skolimowski's vision of creating such a stark representation of that cruelty really hits home.

EO review

While good in some ways, though, EO is equally irritating in others. The director himself once stated that he's "not afraid to wander away from direct narrative" and boy ain't that the truth in his latest cinematic venture. EO lacks a clear structure and is consistently outlandish in its sequencing. These particular faux pas really affect the film's palatableness, to the point where it's impossible to truly invest beyond anything other than recognising the obvious awfulness of animal abuse.

Indeed, it's all just a little too much: the telepathic communication between donkey and circus trainer; the absurd, constant journey to random locations at which EO somehow ends up without any explanation; the bizarre and freakish scene transitions that make little to no sense. Although the movie works in demonstrating the relentlessness of EO's sad existence, it makes for a frustrating viewing experience at the same time.

EO review

Ultimately, it's clear that Skolimowski's EO is designed to be a stripped back portrayal, and if this feature's sole mission is to be an awareness piece on animal cruelty, it does it quite well. But from another perspective, that, in itself, is its own undoing. With its subpar story development and downright annoying sequencing, this jarring film offers little else.

EO is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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