EO Review

2022 might be the donkey’s year due to two Equidae family members filling the movie screen with memorable performances. We had Jenny from The Banshees of Inisherin who broke our hearts and now we have EO. While EO is not dialogue-heavy, the movie gives us a lot to think about in how we treat our animals or treat something new to us. EO is a great movie that teaches us a little about ourselves. Who knew a movie about a nomadic donkey could leave you with tears by the time it ends?

EO starts off in a sequence that might be intense for those with sensitive eyes. It is a constant flashing of lights and in between those flashes, we see EO performing in the circus with his female handler, Kasandra. After the scene we see EO being used to pull a cart to throw out the trash. At first, EO is not moving and a male trainer whips him with a stick. Kasandra sees this and yells for him to stop. After a brief exchange of words, EO slowly pulls the cart to the dumping ground.

As Eo is getting back to the circus there are protestors surrounding the circus grounds and a few men grab EO from the trainer. The trainer is told that the animals are being repossessed and taken away to live a better life free of abuse. The irony here is when we see EO again he is pulling a cart and put to work on what seems like a children’s zoo. While EO watches how the different animals are treated he thinks back to Kasandra.

There are a few shots in the movie that are just close-ups of EO’s eye. These moments feel like they were created to help the viewer empathize with EO and feel what they are feeling. The color scheme during these scenes is a bit surreal and again might be filmed that way to put you in the donkey’s mind. EO is innocence thrown into a harsh world and is unsure of how to react to what they are surrounded by.

One night while standing in their pen, Kasandra visits EO after a night of drinking and feeds EO some pills, and drives away. EO starts to cry for Kasandra and breaks threw the fence on the pen and runs off trying to catch up to her. This starts EO on a trip across the country that will inevitably change their life. The first instance is while walking in the forest EO sees a fox. We next see red dots appear on EO and then hear gunshots. The screen is filled with heavy breathing and we see the fox laying bloodied on the floor gasping for its life. EO watches as the fox breathes its last breath and walks off into the night.

Next, we see EO in a small town and they walk upon a soccer game. The fans of the soccer team take to EO but the fans of the opposing team do not. Needless to say, the opposing team’s fans find EO alone and let out their frustrations on the poor donkey. We see the evil that people do to animals within this moment of the film. While the beating is not shown on screen it is implied by the film showing us EO’s point of view of the attack.

EO is a film that needs to be seen. The experience that it takes you on will stay with you long after the credits are finished rolling. The film takes a surreal turn at one moment when EO is on a bridge. I wonder if this is the filmmaker’s way of showing us how uncertain life is and that even though things get strange we must just continue walking through them. EO continues on his trek even though he witnesses and experiences some harsh moments in its life. EO is a marvel of a film that takes an ordinary subject like a donkey and makes them extraordinary.

EO was a Spotlight film during the Chicago International Film Festival

Final Thoughts: The story of EO is not just a story of a donkey but a story of people. As EO travels across the country we see how people treat and react to them. EO shows us how society treats the unknown and either tries to keep it for itself or destroy it. EO is a must-watch and will stay with you after it is over.

Kid-Friendly: EO is a fantastic journey through multiple countries. We do see the evil that some of his encounters contain and some of these instances might be intense for younger viewers. I would recommend this for ages 12 and up.

Violence: There is a scene where soccer fans invade a rival soccer fan’s clubhouse and start destroying the place. These same men beat EO with bats and kick him around. It is never really shown but implied. There is a scene where a truck driver is attacked and their throat slashed.

With his first film in seven years, legendary director Jerzy Skolimowski (Deep End, Moonlighting) directs one of his most free and visually inventive films yet, following the travels of a nomadic grey donkey named EO. After being removed from the traveling circus, which is the only life he’s ever known, EO begins a trek across the Polish and Italian countryside, experiencing cruelty and kindness in equal measure, all the while observing the follies and triumphs of humankind. During his travels, EO is both helped and hindered by a cast of characters that includes a young Italian priest (Lorenzo Zurzolo), a Countess (Isabelle Huppert), and a rowdy Polish soccer team. Loosely inspired by Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, and featuring immersive, stunning cinematography by Michal Dymek coupled by Pawel Mykietyn resonant score, Skolimowski’s film puts the viewer in the perspective of its four-legged protagonist. EO’s journey speaks to the world around us, an equine hero boldly pointing out societal ills, and serving as warning to the dangers of neglect and inaction, all while on a quest for freedom.

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