Agata Wisniewska, Katarzyna Stawczyk, Kasia Dominiak, Katarzyna Hubinska, Marta Bocheneck, Patrycja Jachymek, and Agnieszka Pawlowska
"Tattoo Girls" a Unique, Mesmerizing Feature Documentary
Two months after its arthouse release in Poland, Miguel Gaudencio's feature documentary Tattoo Girls has arrived for worldwide consumption with an exclusive engagement on TubiTV with a wider release planned planned after April including Amazon Prime, Vimeo on Demand and others.
The film is a uniquely constructed documentary, both meditative and episodic in the way it approaches the lives of its seven human subjects - all women and all with tattoos that seem to, somehow, express something about who they are. If you only watch documentaries that are clearly defined, Tattoo Girls may not be the film for you.
That would be a pity, because Tattoo Girls is a gorgeous, involving film that seems to go places that a documentary camera seldom goes. It's not so much that we're here to get to know these women, but rather that we're here to be immersed in their worlds. Gaudencio follows these women as they go about their daily lives, the camera merely observing them rather than drawing their attention. In a way, Tattoo Girls reminded me of a rather unlikely documentary, the masterful Into Great Silence, a 2005 documentary by Philip Groning that observed the notoriously reclusive Carthusian Order in France.
While there's nothing particularly reclusive about the women in Tattoo Girls, Gaudencio has a similar style of simply allowing the camera to go wherever it needs to go and finding transformative beauty even amongst the most mundane moments. Gaudencio lenses the film himself and he often chooses to allow the camera to linger, whether shooting aerial shots or intimate portraits.
If you require a documentary to have a very specific point, you may find the experience of watching Tattoo Girls frustrating as it seems to be the journey that is the point rather than any specific destination. The film isn't so much a celebration of tattoos as it is an embrace of individuality and showing up "as is" into our lives. The women almost entirely express themselves in creative ways, ranging from fashions created by a dressmaker to the eloquent intimacy displayed by, yes, a mortician. Tattoo Girls includes a model, a fashion designer, a dancer and more and it's remarkable how Gaudencio captures both similarities and differences and the bridges between them.
Tattoo Girls is practically tailor made for the indie fest circuit, a circuit that so often embraces the unique, creative spirit and where the film's more experimental approach should have no difficulty finding an audience. It's a unique viewing experience, however, it's a rather remarkable viewing experience that has lingered in my psyche' long after the closing credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic