As you can imagine for a film with a title like this, Sweat is infused with a tonne of energy. It moves along with a kinetic pace, with its docudrama aesthetic making it feel so immediate and personal, even if the story itself isn’t moving as quickly.
Fitness motivator Sylwia (Magdalena Kolesnik) has a large audience to her work, not just through her exercise seminars, but mostly through her social media presence, where on Instagram she has hundreds of thousands of followers. But her intense desire for true connection in her empty world of loneliness starts to seep its way into her videos, causing one ardent fan to send her both creepy and compassionate messages.
This idea of people feeling lonely despite a huge social media following sounds naff and hardly original these days, but it’s explored in a way that makes it seem both genuine and with something new to say. Sylwia does find a kind of real life compassion in the most unusual place.
But this character arc for her feels insubstantial, making Sweat feel like the first act of a film stretched out to feature length. There’s a lot of energy with how the film technically carries itself, which gets appropriately slower as it goes on, but the underlying tale of Sylwia doesn’t quite feel complete. This journey of hers feels piecemeal, but at least the honest and daring acting from Magdalena makes it feel all the more flesh and blood, with some emotionally revealing moments from her at the end.
Sweat is a film that easily brings in its audience, captivating them with an energetic sensibility that very much appropriately fits the mood of the film, making the audience feel like they’ve had a workout. It calms down as it goes along, focusing on the life of Sylwia, but just doesn’t manage to fit in enough of her life to really make it seem like we understand as much about her as the film does.
Sweat plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, March 8 to Sunday, March 14. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au