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GDYNIA 2019

Review: The Iron Bridge

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- The love triangle between a foreman, his wife and his best buddy constitutes but the surface of this haunting and elegant drama, and digging deeper reveals a chilling tale about a human soul

Review: The Iron Bridge
Łukasz Simlat in The Iron Bridge

Debuting writer-director Monika Jordan-Młodzianowska has been working for many years as a casting director. Her experience in understanding human behaviour and her knowledge of the emotional palette than an actor can bring to a role is one of the pillars of her chilling and elegant film The Iron Bridge, which premiered at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia. While the premise may seem trivial, everything that follows is not.

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Meet Kacper (Bartłomiej Topa), a foreman in a copper mine, who is in love with his friend and co-worker Oscar’s (United States of Love [+see also:
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’s Łukasz Simlat) wife, Magda (Nina [+see also:
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’s Julia Kijowska). When we see Kacper for the first time, he is the bearer of bad news: Oscar is trapped in the mine. No one saw him go down there, and no one knows where he could be buried – or even if he is still alive. The rescue mission is under way, while Kacper suggests drilling exploratory boreholes to locate his lost friend. Meanwhile, both he and Magda are trying to grasp how this tragedy will influence their relationship, and whether their search for Oscar is motivated by love or by guilt.

As the story unfolds, the atmosphere turns more and more dense and stifling, as if someone were sucking the oxygen out of the screen. The trio of main actors have a pulsating presence, though they rarely allow their characters to burst, which only exacerbates the feeling of claustrophobia. Jordan-Młodzianowska intertwines past events (mainly the beginning of the illicit affair) with current ones in order to portray the psychological entanglement of her characters. They are living in the past, and no matter what they do from now on, their choices will always cast long shadows over them.

Since The Iron Bridge is mostly a story about the unseen (the soul, the conscience and the psyche), sound and music take on a crucial meaning here. The dread-laden tones and noises are the work of Dreamsound Studio (Body [+see also:
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, 1983, Corpus Christi [+see also:
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), while the music sounds somehow familiar with its dark, chilling notes. This is no coincidence: the composer is Andrey Dergachev, a long-time collaborator of Andrey Zvyaginstev’s, that master of drilling boreholes in human souls. Dergachev created the sounds for Loveless [+see also:
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, Leviathan
 [+see also:
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and Elena, and scored the latter film as well. Successfully making such a deep and cinematic movie out of a very clichéd story proves that newcomer Jordan-Młodziankowska is a mature and effective yet modest filmmaker, whose next ventures should be tracked closely.

The Iron Bridge was produced by Anna Wereda and Karol Wożbiński through Autograf Karol Wożbiński, and co-produced by TVP (the Polish public broadcaster), Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny, Orka, Dreamsound and MX35. IKH Picture Promotions handles the world sales.

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