Two elderly swimmers meet at the baths for their ritual swimming. This time they are diving deeper than usual.
A unique and mesmorising vision emerges in this heartbreaking story of two elderly women who find a doorway back to their glory years. Director, writer and animator Tomek Ducki uses a hyper-surreal style to tell a tragic and genuinely heartfelt story. With visuals that are reminiscent of an August Macke painting and some simple but effective scene transitions that establish the world that our two main characters exist in, Ducki wastes none of the slender 4 minute running time in presenting two people in isolation. They are almost broken and go virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world. Without a word of dialogue, Ducki deftly establishes the fact that the only people that they exist to are each other.
The nature of their relationship is an especially poignant once it is revealed that as swimmers in their youth, they were former rivals. Even before the revelation of the mysterious anomaly that transports them to the glory of their youth, we see a vigour and strength to these two elderly and forgotten women as they begin to swim.
This is a far cry from the hunched shuffling of the previous scenes and a wonderful nod to the fact that they seem to draw strength from one another. Ducki chooses to show us this before he shows us why, which makes for a much more interesting character exploration, even in a film this brief. As the two swimmers venture through the anomaly and find themselves returned to their youth and on the starting blocks of a race, it does not take them long to re-engage their rivalry.
Quickly shaking off the disorientation and confusion of how they got to this place, they are seemingly won over by the fact that they have become important once again. Far from being alone and ignored, it seems the whole world now has come to see these two warriors do battle, a sentiment that is matched by the voracity and intensity of the style that Ducki applies once the starter pistol fires.
Ultimately, the story we are told is of two women given the choice to either keep moving forwards or to go backwards. The manner and style in which the race is played out gives us not so much a race between two rivals but a struggle to resist the temptation of living in the past. While logic might make that choice seem obvious, Łaźnia reminds us that there are periods in our lives that might make going backwards very appealing indeed.
This is a beautifully crafted visual journey and a thoughtful look at the difference between our golden years and our golden age.
Studio: Tomek Ducki | Year: 2013 | Genre: Animation/Fantasy/Comedy | Duration: 4 mins | Suitability: General