Polina, A Magical Journey in Review

24 Oct

A Magical Journey (2019) - IMDbBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

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Olias Barco’s A Magical Journey (originally titled Polina tayemnyzia kinostudiyi) is a blend of several familiar young adventures. It sometimes borders on Alice in Wonderland territory such that Polina (Polina Pechenenko), an 11-year-old orphan, ventures from one fairy tale world to another. In this story’s case, it’s jumping from one film world to another to avoid being caught by the wicked witch’s minions.

Taking a slight cue from the first Harry Potter movie, she’s holed up in tiny room in her aunt’s home, a wannabe Cruella, and only has her imagination to keep her sane. She plays with little figures and one day finds momentos from her past. All she has is a torn-up photo of her biological family and a pass to the movie studio her parents once owned. This relative hates the idea she’ll take ownership one day and plans to kill her. Fortunately, she escapes and enters the wondrous world of filmmaking. 

The current head of the studio, Saul (Saul Rubinek) is ordered to find her, lest she incites a revolt with the staff. The hologram (Jean Reno) and a few kids Polina befriends are a lot more interesting. They all help her regain her memories. As she transitions from one film set to another, there’s lessons that she can learn in her path to becoming an independent woman. Sometimes she gets the message, but more often than not, she’s simply collecting pieces of a photographic puzzle, and what she learns is just as good. But she better solve it by midnight or she’ll be lost to the matrix forever.

This film is interesting enough to captivate, but to hold it needs more than a few expositions to reveal why this young girl is special. It tries to replicate the atmospheric quality from Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, but it falls flat from achieving the same zeitgeist. The reason is simple. I would’ve loved this film more had it been presented in its native language, with subtitles.

3 Stars out of 5

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