Earlier this year director Emily Atef received the Bradford Film Festival’s European Features prize with her latest offering Kill Me. This Thursday, as winner of our audience choice poll, we’ll be bring you one of her earlier works; Molly’s Way (2005) is a touching snapshot of a young Irish woman’s journey of self-discovery, one that takes her along the back roads of Eastern Europe, as she comes to terms with her impending, unplanned motherhood.
We meet the Molly of the title, full of hope and expectation, as she begins her quest to find Marcin – a one-night-stand and subsequently the unborn baby’s father. With only a map, and his name and occupation to go on, Molly begins an alternative sight-seeing tour of Poland, spending her days scouring abandoned coal mines to find the man she spent one memorable day and night with.
However, instead of finding a quaint Polish town, Molly finds a cold, harsh and often desolate landscape trapped in a post-industrial depression, with abrupt, aloof inhabitants to match. The brooding town becomes almost a character in itself, bereft of hope and at once lifted by Molly’s presence, simultaneously rejecting her kindness and optimism, whilst attempting to drain it from her.
Alone, Molly attempts to set up a home from home at her seedy guest house, her sunny disposition attracting a barrage of cynicism and derision from the locals, and taking her on an inward journey to parallel her outward travels, her spirit and determination challenged at every turn.
However, despite the seemingly bleak beginnings, Molly’s Way is peppered with enough Irish warmth, as well as the odd comic and surreal moment, including a spontaneous and memorable burst of Irish dancing, that the film manages to retain an optimistic outlook. Whilst it’s doubtful the Polish tourist board will be linking the film on their website any time soon, it does provide an interesting representation of the character of a place robbed of its industry and purpose, and the town and its characters are often redeemed by their resilience and nonchalant natures in the face of financial and spiritual hardship.
Molly’s Way also has a distinctly and unapologetically low budget charm, the lack of gloss and focus on realism providing a raw and honest tone, as Molly, refreshingly, doesn’t own an endless pot of Hollywood money, and her longer than expected stay forces her to seek employment at the guest house, cleaning the unsavoury contents of prostitute’s rooms.
Molly’s endearing mix of innocence and determination often lead her to wandering, spiritually and physically lost, through the grim Polish landscape. So, whilst the film lacks any real moments of suspense, Molly’s spirited but often incredibly naïve actions provide plenty of frustration, as she places herself in a succession of potentially baby- hazardous situations. As an Irish (not English, it’s not the same) woman far from the beaten track, faced with the coldness of strangers, Atef and Mairead McKinley’s intimate and understated portrayal of Molly allows for a natural warming to the character, one that faster paced features often force. This eliciting of genuine concern, to the extent that you feel personally involved in Molly’s quest, and at times almost a confidante, is where the strength of the film lies.
Ultimately, Molly’s Way, with its not always subtle but well-meaning nods towards journeys and paths, reflects with the unfolding of its own narrative, a clear value of the journey over the destination. Through Molly’s search for Marcin, Atef addresses the disappointment of reality versus fantasy, and the belief that although you may not always get what you want, you might just find something better instead.
– Holly Thackeray
The screening takes place Thursday 24th October at Armley Mills Industrial Museum‘s Palace Picturehouse and will be preceded by homemade cake courtesy of our resident baker, Abi, as well as a selection of short films.
Doors open at 640PM with the event starting form 7PM. Tickets are available form our online ticket office here.