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The Independent Critic

Maria Czubaszek, Agata Kulesza, Zbigniew Lew-Starowicz, Julia Pietrucha, Mikolaj Lizut
Miguel Gaudencio
MIguel Gaudencio, Rafal Samusik
88 Mins.
Green Box (Theatrical), Kinonation (Web/VOD)

 "Desire for Beauty" a Thoughtful, Intelligent Doc 
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Desire for Beauty is the first every Polish documentary on the issues of beauty and self-perception. The film follows the journeys of four people who turn to plastic surgery as their last resort in the search for perfection.

In many ways, Desire for Beauty is a typical documentary. It asks many of the expected questions and examines the lives of those it follows in a way that we've seen many times before. Yet, there is something different. Director Miguel Gaudencio allows the film to go where it needs to go and, along the way, he seems to discover new and unexpected questions and threads that help to turn Desire for Beauty into a special film that has attracted support across Poland from a wide variety of corners including renowned members of Poland's social scene and a number of clinical and fashion experts.

Desire for Beauty is the kind of film that makes you think about it long after the closing credits have rolled by. The film is beautifully photographed by Maciej Puczynski, lending the film a warmth and naturalness that works quite well considering the subject matter. Of course, it also helps that Gaudencio has so beautifully woven together the stories that unfold here. While many documentaries of this type can feel forced and manipulated, Desire for Beauty feels incredibly honest.

Desire for Beauty is a thoughtful film that demands to be processed after viewing it. It's the kind of film where you'll likely find yourself examining your own life, your own self-perception, your own definition of beauty, and your own relationships. Yet, it's really not a judgmental film. It just really calls for self-examination.

It's also a realistic film that doesn't shy away from examining the doubts of those who participate and their anxieties and fears even as they move forward in their quest for perfection. The film also benefits greatly from the presence of Agata Kulesza, a 2012 Polish Academy Award winner for Best Actress who serves as lead interviewer here.

Desire for Beauty has had quite a bit of festival success before being picked up by Green Box Films for a theatrical run. Gaudencio is an award-winning music video director whose obvious sense of style, pacing and balance all come in handy here. In 2008, he directed Second Life, which at the time had the biggest production budget in the history of Portuguese cinema.

With intelligence, understanding, and wisdom, Gaudencio has crafted a compelling and informative film that touches both heart and mind. For more information on Desire for Beauty, visit the film's website linked to in the credits.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic