‘You Won’t Be Alone’, Goran Stolevski’s delightful, wildly original first feature, moves so hypnotically between dream and nightmare, horror and fairytale that once bound by its spell, you don’t want to be set free.
Set in a mountain village in 19th-century Macedonia, Stolevski’s extremely confident script is based on regional folklore. It revolves around Nevena (Sara Klimoska), an innocent young woman driven by an intense curiosity. To protect her from an old witch (Anamaria Marinca) who lusts after the blood of newborns, Nevena’s mother hid her in a cave from birth until her 16th birthday. When the witch returns on that date and kidnaps Nevena – after making her stupid baby – the young woman embarks on an astonishing, shape-shifting journey of death and discovery.
Unshakably committed to its unique vision, and softened by Matthew Chuang’s lusciously seductive imagery, “You Won’t Be Alone” ponders more than one existential question. How are we supposed to understand human nature if we have never been nurtured? Soft bits of narration, poetic and full of wonder, let’s get a glimpse of Nevena’s thoughts as she accidentally kills a village woman (Noomi Rapace), opens her own chest cavity and stuffs the woman’s bloody organs into it. Based on the form of the woman, Nevena will inhabit a series of villagers, mirror behavior and gain experiences.
Gradually, this strange, deeply humane film becomes a seductive meditation on identity and gender, underscoring the precarity of women in a male-ruled society. Within its mystical bounds tenderness and cruelty walk side by side, and a palm outstretched in friendship can hide a witch’s claw.
You won’t be alone
Rated R for sexual assault and a satisfying revenge. Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes. In theatres.