Bring Handkerchief

Stars: Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz and Isabelle Huppert
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Scriptwriters: Jerzy Skolimowski and Ewa Piaskowska
Composer: Pawel Mykietyn
Cinematography: Michal Dymek
Skopia Films
Rating: PG 13, mistreatment of animals
Running Length: 88 Minutes
Languages: Polish, Italian, French and English
Awards: Jury Prize Cannes Film Festival 2022, New York Film Critics Circle Best International Film Dec. 2022, European Film Awards Best Original Score Dec. 2022

The first time I saw “Bambi,”   I realized there could be cruelty toward animals in this world.  Then, there was “Bite The Bullet” with cruelty toward horses (“Black Beauty” here, too) and now comes “EO,” a small grey donkey that takes you through his life.  Here is someone who can’t speak, and humans must speak for him, or rather, kindly speak to him.  This isn’t always the case as you will see.  The human actors do their job well, but you will always watch EO and his mesmerizing eyes. A moving film with a heart that beats in a furry grey chest wanting to have a place in this world.  

We begin with the donkey as part of a circus.  There is fun, food and people who take care of him. However, the circus can’t afford some animals, so EO is taken away and becomes a donkey who works, like a draught horse.  Then, comes an accident and EO goes out by himself only to be taken by a truck driver and while parked in the truck, EO observes a crime scene.  Eventually, he becomes the mascot for a sports team and here is where there is trouble when the losing team decides to take their frustrations out on something or someone, and there is the donkey.  Need I say more.

There are films that have the camera follow someone through their life problems and you see the decisions they make that are good or bad.  In an animal film, the camera follows them, too, but they can’t speak and there is no one to speak for them. In my part of the world, lived an old donkey that had gone out to pasture for the rest of his days. Instead of slipping peacefully away, he actually grew larger, put-on weight and stood by the fence of his pasture every day when people went to and from work. People either honked and waved or bicyclists stopped and petted him and left food. He had a happy life for many more years, way past his time, and then eventually went to sleep. The owner became famous for the donkey who was a camera subject, too.  Alas, cases of this are in the minority, and we have EO and an existence that has some happiness, but then life changes and away he goes somewhere else.

Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski is famed for his work, and is now 80 years old. He took a break from making pictures from 1991-2008 before going back to the cinema.  This is a well-directed film, combining several stories from circus life to work life to mascot life, and all centered on a little donkey. The wonderful photography by Michal Dymek, who captures night time shots and expressive eyes. Pawel Mykietyn’s music goes right along with the action and tells a story in itself. No wonder it won a major award.  This film moves like a poem, each section of EO’s life is another verse, some happy, some not. It is fluid , as with tears that could be tears of joy or tears of sorrow.  “EO” ends up flowing over your emotions.

Copyright 2022 Marie Asner