What does the colour pink mean to you? Forced femininity? Rose-tinted positivity? For Sylwia (Magdalena Koleśnik, magnetic), it’s both. She’s a fitness influencer and wears a lot of the stuff. In bougie Warsaw, her job gets her loads of freebies. Through her videos, TV appearances and workout demonstrations, she remains poised and professional. Occasionally she feels liked – but she wants to be loved. Her eyes betray anxiety and unhappiness. Loneliness, too.
Sweat, assuredly helmed by writer-director Magnus von Horn, follows Sylwia in the build-up to a chat show interview. By the end, she’s hit breaking point. She’s misunderstood by family. Misunderstood by her 600,000 followers. Misunderstood by men. And then there’s the small matter of the stalker parked by her flat.
As she tells her family, there’s a dark side to what she does. There are good days and there are bad days. But the cleverest thing? The film also poses the question: is she really so unhappy, or is that a performance too? Von Horn’s second feature is a sharp critique of the influencing world and the nefarious impact it can have on its practitioners. It could so easily have been patronising, but it feels honest.
The direction is sharp, the camerawork in-your-face, and the lilting synth score by Piotr Kurek recalls Drive – as do Sylwia’s neon outfits. And through it all, Koleśnik gives a remarkable performance that nails the public/private schism at the heart of Instagram celebrity.
In UK cinemas and streaming on Curzon Home Cinema Jun 25.