You will not be alone2022.
Written and directed by Goran Stolevski.
Starring Sara Klimoska, Anamaria Marinca, Alice Englert, Félix Maritaud, Carloto Cotta, Noomi Rapace, Irena Ristić, Arta Dobroshi, Daniel Kovacevic and Kamka Tocinovski.
In an isolated mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, a girl is kidnapped and then transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit.
It feels bad to talk about You will not be alone Not to mention the phenomenal makeup artists. They (including Nathaniel Corkery, Karla Lazic, Tristan Lucas, Lois McIntosh, Adeline-Faye Petz, Marina Stojanovic and Dusica Vuksanovic) have together molded a grotesque witch made of scar tissue. Whether captured from a distance or up close by cinematographer Matthew Chuang (who also finds serene beauty in nature and 19th century farms), every frame involving Old Maid Maria (played with unnerving tragedy by Anamaria Marinca) brims with detail and excellent craftsmanship.
It is a physical disfigurement that does not feel called on the phone and has a purpose for the story and, above all, it still needs to be talked about by the end of the year. The same could be said for writer-director Goran Stolevski, who makes his feature-length narrative debut here, casting as an ambitious dark coming-of-age fable that encompasses a variety of perspectives and lived lives.
For reasons I won’t divulge, Maria searches for newborn blood, eventually encountering a mother and baby (Nevena) who negotiously reject him. Maria will leave the baby alive, taking only a little blood and her voice, but when she turns 16 she will become the witch’s daughter. Maria agrees and leaves, and the story flashes forward 16 years until Nevena (Sara Klimoska in a lyrically moving performance, especially with poetic narration delivered as easily decipherable sentence fragments) is hidden by her mother by Maria inside a cave. .
No matter. Maria finds them anyway and completes the deal by force. From there, the lonely witch decides to teach the mute girl wild ways of living. There may be a record of the number of dismembered, mutilated and eaten animals on display here. Maria also tries to instill in Nevena that the rest of society will never accept her, especially if they discover her supernatural abilities. However, Nevena is too inexperienced, pure and naive to believe or want to live the same way, which inevitably disappoints her new guardian and she leaves him.
this is where You will not be alone it opens up even more to a costly and compelling reflection on life, as Nevena sometimes finds herself fighting for her life and killing, only to devour and assume the identity of the slain. She then attempts (still without a voice) to ingratiate herself with these diverse communities, pulling together multiple life lessons and formative experiences.
One of the most striking parallels occurs when Nevena ends up transforming into a young man, aware of having the pleasure of having privilege and not feeling oppressed or worried about being violated between these archaic gender dynamics. She takes on various forms, young and old, with different goals and motives (played by an array of evocative and committed talent ranging from the reliably excellent Noomi Rapace to rising stars like Alice Englert), each weaving a richer tapestry.
Considering You will not be alone takes a slow approach, there are brief moments where the loop starts to feel repetitive (along with slightly long montages). Yet even in its smallest moments, a suffocating atmosphere of unease and tragedy persists. There are years of happiness, horrible pain, ostracism, and discovery wrapped up in branching life paths, always exhibiting ominous vibrations beneath the surface. The film also doesn’t dictate a life that everyone should strive for, instead it suggests limitless possibilities to consider and try.
You will not be alone contains innovative and insightful portrayals of witches (and while the awards are mostly fun and games and ultimately pointless, it would be a joke if this film is glossed over for make-up effects, which the Academy probably will because generally see the horror as something inferior to them). Embrace this haunting and charming exploration of the making.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]