TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Small Body’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 14, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Small Body’

Agata (Celeste Cescutti) gives birth to a baby the baby dies before she gives birth to them. Because of this, the child can’t have a name and have a baptism, damning that young soul to tell. This is a pervasive belief in 1900s Italy, a belief that Agata shares with enough conviction to do anything to give that child the sacrament. She crosses bodies of water and hikes mountains to get to a church that performs miracles, temporarily giving life to stillborn babies so that they can get that baptism. Then comes Lynx (Ondina Quadri), a boy who meets her just when she starts lactating. They notices what her body is doing, and tries to kidnap her and sell her to become someone’s wet nurse.

Small Body is about a lot of things. It’s about whether or not Lynx eventually sees Agata as someone more than an indentured servant. It’s about whether or not Lynx finds out what in Agata’s box. And lastly, it’s about whether or not Agata and the world will accept Lynx for who they are. The momentum ebbs and flows here. And I guess films should always answer the obvious questions, but there’s a part of me that wants to see a version of Small Body that doesn’t address Lynx’ identity and move on to more interesting questions. As I write those nitpicks though, the visuals here are worth a lot. This is the cinematic version of a Courbet painting, realistic in sight and subject.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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