Córki dancingu

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Córki dancingu (2015), or The Lure in English speaking countries, may just be the best fantasy film of the last decade, and it’s a musical. Agnieszka Smoczyńska reworks Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved The Little Mermaid into a semi-autobiographical horror influenced cabaret. Themes of female identity, sexual orientation, patriarchal oppression, and unrequited love permeate every musical number as if the musical genre had been rearmed as a weapon against the status-quo. Córki dancingu is the most subversive and radical movie musical since Hedwig & The Angry Inch (2001).

Agnieszka Smoczyńska locates female anxieties as a central force within the horror genre, rewriting its cinematic langue for a female perspective. For Smoczyńska men exist as prey, sexual objects, or anything else that is neither monstrous or heroic. Monsters are the heroes of Córki dancingu in the form of Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszańska), sister mermaids who have come ashore and get a crash course in human relationships. Smoczyńska’s manifestation of horror film tactics as an expression of feminist issues or advocacy has provided a sort of blueprint whose legacy is best seen in Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016).

Despite the presence of numerous horror film tropes, Córki dancingu is above all a fantasy film. The desperate genres at work in the film are all connected and intertwined by Smoczyńska’s fine direction in the musical numbers. These musical sequences vary drastically from the traditional MGM style to the music video. Even when a song isn’t being performed music is still part of the soundscape. Synths, keys, and chords signify the telepathic messages that Silver and Golden share. In every scene music and diegetic sound intersect so that the soundtrack is quite literally the synthesis of both aesthetics.

With Córki dancingu Agnieszka Smoczyńska emerges as a fully formed master of her medium. This is “must see” cinema at its most vital, its most uncompromising. Córki dancingu works well on every level; it will terrify you and it will break your heart.