Review: The Day I Found a Girl in the Trash (Dzien, w którym znalazlem w smieciach dziewczyne)

Written and directed by Michal Krzywicki, and co-written by Dagmara Brodziak, who both lead the film’s cast, in the near future, the indifferent activist announces that he will commit suicide at midnight on New Year’s Eve in protest against the reigning slavery in Poland. His plan is questioned when he finds an abandoned slave girl in the garbage and decides to help her regain her freedom. Also starring: Marek Kalita, Philippe Tlonkinski, Mateusz Trzmiel, Marek Dyjak, Zbigniew Dabrowski and Olga Milaszewska.

Immediately upon this film’s opening you’re hit with a visual which strikes right to the nostalgic bone of sci-fi, futuristic and dystopian cinema. It holds a coldness of its story while blending bright, sharp colours to push it outside of the everyday and the current world. It manages to somehow play with that stark topic yet bring through a hint of warmth or hope. That skill then makes much more sense as the story develops and the directorial and cinematographic styles evolve. One of the great things about this film is how the aesthetic adapts as the emotions and relationship of the film progress. It moves fluidly from being more structured and still to free wheeling and handheld, to reflect the burgeoning romance.

Michal Krzywicki uses that initial sharpness he creates, alongside cinematographer Lukasz Suchocki, to then add depth and texture to the more emotional scenes. Part of that is also that it manages to build a consistent intensity and suspense throughout which is not limited to the more political or dangerous aspects. It lands somewhere between Ex Machina, Her, A.I. and Chappie, while Blue (Brodziak) may be human, having her mind basically completely wiped, it easily reflects the type of human and early artificial intelligence relationships we’ve seen before. That connection is because of its aim to bring out the potential kindness and understanding of people, in a cold world.

Krzywicki and Dagmara Brodziak take on known elements of dystopia in film, the severity of punishment, modern slavery and revolution against that but it isn’t an issue of over familiarity so long as it has its own personality, which this story definitely does. There are aspects of the larger story at play which you could consider vague, particularly with its more political vein but they don’t impact the atmosphere because its focus is strongly on the characters. It uses the futuristic setting to dive into a classic question or drive of film which is finding a sliver of humanity among barbarity. It’s not about why that world is how it is, it’s how these two characters find each other and provide what they need to keep going, to rediscover their hope.

A huge part of that rests on the shoulders of the filmmakers as actors, Krzywicki and Brodziak have the challenge of playing these roles with huge subtlety. A lot of the relationship between Szymon and Blue is unsaid because of her new-born-esque state, so it’s brought through instead with a lot of sincere facial expression and compassionate body language. It’s built on a great deal of patience between the two of them, and it’s touching to watch as Krzywicki and Brodziak put on display how much that means to the characters. They have an instant chemistry, the blossoming relationship has a lovely simplicity to it, which these two actors create very convincingly.

The Day I Found a Girl in the Trash is sharp, modern, powerfully shot and intensely emotional. It works through some familiar ground with dystopian cinema but has its own unique personality to add to the equation. Michal Krzywicki and Dagmara Brodziak work brilliantly together, both as writers and actors, they create a moving story which they then translate onto the screen with subtle and affecting performances. Its characters dig deep to find human connection in a world which cares little about quality of life, and the direction terrifically follows that discovery, opening itself up as their relationship grows. It’s a fantastic new spin on dystopian worlds, with a great use of tension and brings through a sincerity which is deceptively difficult to capture in a setting like this.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

Reviewed as part of Raindance Film Festival 2021

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