Set in the near future of Warsaw 2030, Europe seems to be headed into a weird dystopia, ravaged by biological attacks and bombings. We follow a janitor as he’s getting used to his new job, where he meets some unusual people and starts to encounter some strange goings on, following the discovery of an old wooden television in his new apartment. This somehow connects to him on a telepathic level, showing him different events that have happened throughout recent history, and somehow he’s there too. This gradually unfolds, flitting between different time periods. It’s quite an ethereal film, which wouldn’t be surprising if the director turned out to be heavily influenced by David Lynch. The pacing, the characters and the ominous, unsettling sound design would’ve all been right at home in Twin Peaks’ 2017 return. It stars Olga Boladz, an actress who has been in literally every Polish film I’ve seen over the last couple of years, and as always, gives an utterly brilliant performance.
The bizarre supporting characters give the film a strange, amusing and intimidating presence and really add to the unusual world that’s being created here. Its bold and arty direction really stands out from a lot of films released over the last few years. It’s a unique and intriguing experience. An existential thriller with a dash of mind-bending sci-fi for good measure. The costume design is fantastic, like a fusion of neo noir and 50’s conservatism. There appears to be a few communist undertones to the set design too, with a lot of repetitious patterns in the decor, and the brutalist style buildings set against the more traditional older structures as well as the contemporary skyscrapers creates an interesting look at the way central Europe has progressed over the latter half of the 20th century and beyond. The production as a whole looks fantastic, especially for a Polish film, as its style is totally different to the films we’ve seen come from Poland over the last few years. The Man With the Magic Box is the kind of sci-fi film I really wish we get more of and makes a refreshing change to the usual hollywood movies.