13 April 2005 | canadude
Going through the motions
There was a time when Polish cinema ranked among the best of the world. Those days, inevitably and indubitably, are over. "Symetria" is a perfect example of why - a failure of a film, a dismal, boring, drawn-out, sentimental mess.
"Symetria" or "Symmetry" for those who haven't yet caught on, tells the story of a man who ends up in prison, entirely without reason, assuring us continuously of his innocence and ends up being corrupted by the system. In a word, true - this happens often, I do not doubt. In a world outside of society, people begin living by their own rules very much a la "Lord of the Flies." But what "Symetria" does is not explore this theme with a new angle, try to shed light on it or even portray the theme realistically. What it does is *attempt* to be art rather than actually *be* art. In other words, it becomes a grotesque, vulgar bore-show of long takes and clichéd dialogue and trivialized psychological analysis. The shift in personality that occurs in the main character I simply do not buy - especially when he turns on a man whom he has consistently, without fail treated as a friend (until this particular moment that I don't want to reveal.) This film is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who takes cinema seriously. It's tragic too because "Symetria" opens with a lot of potential, but it goes through the motions of a story and believable character development rather than actually accomplish these things. At the end of it I felt cheated, empty, unsatisfied - even dissatisfied. It's been a while since I've seen a dramatic film, that takes itself seriously, strewn together from parts of films and books far greater than itself - all to amount to a jumbled mess.
I won't get into specifics, but my main problem is with the corruption of the main character. It doesn't happen realistically, believably and a step at a time. It seems like he's a nice, shy, isolated guy at first and then suddenly, he turns into a prison-life-savvy vigilante. In fact, the film actually seems to imply what it tries to be dead set against: namely that jails, however horrid, actually instill a sense of morality and responsibility in an individual that is far beyond what people outside of jail can comprehend. Jail is good - the tough, who survive, are tough enough to take morality into their own hands and do it justly. Or so the film seems to imply through its final scenes - I don't want to spoil the fun for whoever wants to watch "Symetria" by revealing them.
Needless to say, this is a below-average film and I think I disliked it so much because it pretends to be about so much, while being about nothing, or failing to be about anything well. In that respect it's pretentious, self-involved, simplistic and forced.