Jerzy Skolimowski’s latest film is an operatic, stunning portrait of human nature. EO is masterful filmmaking with stunning cinematography, a haunting original score, and impeccable sound design. A heart-wrenching film on what it means to survive.
This review contains slight spoilers for the film EO, as well as descriptions of animal abuse.
EO is one of the most unique films of the year. Jerzy Skolimowski’s film follows a donkey named EO from his perspective as he steers through the Polish and Italian countryside on a solo journey. His journey is full of joy, pain, cruelty, and love. Skolimowski’s direction is outstanding and creates a visual experience for the ages. Michal Dymek’s cinematography immerses the audience in EO’s experience.
The film begins with a visually stunning scene of EO performing a circus act with his trainer Kasandra (Sandra Drzymalska) set to red strobe lights that resemble an EDM music video. While the red lights flash through the complete circus performance, Pawel Mykietyn’s hauntingly, beautiful, orchestral score plays over the scene. Kasandra lovingly cares for EO between performances, but EO belongs to the circus company, not Kasandra. When EO is not performing, he’s being used by the show-runner to complete physical labor with whips and physical abuse controlling him. An animal rights protest and bank problems lead to the animals being sent away, separating EO from Kasandra, his companion in life. The moment the pair are forcibly separated, we see both Kasandra and EO cry.
EO follows its titular donkey as he goes from a farm working laborious jobs until he’s sent to a therapy farm for children to bond with animals. EO could easily retire as a therapy donkey at this farm, but he escapes into the wilderness one night. Dymek’s cinematography shines while EO wanders the dark wilderness in which the film truly starts to feel as a horror film with spiders and wolves creeping in the darkness surrounding EO. As he makes his way to town, EO is eventually picked up by a rowdy group of sports fans after they win a soccer match. The wild bunch take EO to their celebratory night on the town where the rival fans show up and violently attack them. As they’re leaving, the group brutally attack EO, which we see entirely from his point of view. We next see EO as he awakens in a care facility, where we overhear workers suggesting putting EO to sleep as he’s just an animal in pain.
As we follow EO on his journey after he’s healed from his brutal injuries, he finds a new companion and EO is brought to the home of his wealthy stepmother (Isabelle Huppert). Just when the audience finally thinks EO is safe and in a loving space, he runs out the front gate to continue his journey. When the film comes to an end, one can’t help but feel emotional. Not from any manipulation, but because Skolimowski’s film is touching, compassionate, and honest. EO is so earnestly portrayed; you feel his curiosity and his longing for more from the world and people around him.
EO is more than just about the human-animal connection; the film is about human nature, survival, and empathy. While many animal lovers will easily connect with the film, EO is for everyone who has felt alone at one point in their life. Skolimowski’s latest film is an operatic, stunning portrait on human nature. EO is masterful filmmaking with stunning cinematography, a haunting original score, and impeccable sound design.
Nominated: Best International Feature
Should Have Been Considered: Best Original Score, Best Cinematography
Where to Watch: In Select Theaters
Lives in LA with her husband, daughter and dog. Misses Arclight, loves iced vanilla coffees.
Favorite Director: Darren Aronofsky