Letterboxd (2.5/5), Imdb.com (5/10)
Who would have thought that a film about an adorable donkey on an adventure wandering across Eastern Europe would capture the attention of the movie world? The concept itself seems like a stretch. And, unfortunately, after screening this picture, it seems like a stretch in practice, too. When EO, a performer in a circus company, is confiscated from his troupe in response to the contentions of animal rights activists who claim he’s being tortured in that role, the independently minded creature finds a series of new owners as he meanders throughout the Polish landscape. In a number of respects, this delightfully quirky offering has more than its share of touching humorous moments as the beast makes a fool out of his human companions. But, as this story wears on, its narrative becomes somewhat implausible (and even a downright downer at times) as EO encounters his share of increasingly strange characters and situations, such as a story thread involving acclaimed actress Isabelle Huppert that’s weirdly cryptic even by her standards these days. To its credit, the film’s often-gorgeous cinematography is indeed a sight to behold, but even that’s undermined by some truly strange, seemingly unrelated imagery, much of it again photographed beautifully but in ways that puzzle viewers about its intended purpose. Writer-director Jerzy Skolimowski’s latest truly has its commendably inventive moments, but the overall production just doesn’t hold together as well as it might have, its many inexplicable tangents often feeling as if they’re coming from way out of left field. Consequently, it makes me wonder why this release has been showered with so many awards season accolades, including an Oscar nomination for best international film, an honor that seems like as much of a stretch as this picture’s basic premise. A few passing moments of cuteness and modest laughs don’t seem like enough to make this one of the year’s allegedly stellar offerings.