[Tribeca Festival] ATTACHMENT Review – A Love Story Steeped in Jewish Folklore
E.L. King says Attachment explores the deep bonds of love, superstition, and the complex nature of unhealthy codependent relationships.
Attachment is a Queer horror film steeped in Jewish folklore written and directed by Gabriel Bier GislasonIt in his feature-length film debut. At the center of the film's narrative is a love-at-first-sight romance between a Danish former actress and a Jewish academic from London. It boasts a rather endearing meet-cute between its leads in a public library when the two quite literally bump into each other dropping their books. The two strike up a whirlwind courtship, but unbeknownst to them, something sinister lurks beneath the surface. The film stars Josephine Park, Ellie Kendrick, Sofie Gråbøl, and David Dencik.
When Leah (Kendrick) suffers a terrifying and mysterious seizure, breaking her leg with a horrifying snap, Maja (Park) fears their relationship may end before it truly begins. She decides to accompany Leah back to her home—a multi-story flat in London she shares with her Mother—in the Hasidic neighborhood of Stamford Hill. There, she meets Leah’s mother, Chana (Gråbøl), an unpleasant, domineering, and secretive woman. Chana resists Maja’s attempts to bond with and get to know her. When Maja begins to notice strange seemingly supernatural occurrences in the apartments, she begins to suspect that Chana is conjuring something to keep Leah's love and devotion for herself. The superstitions and traditions of Orthodox Judaism play a role in the film's narrative, bringing authenticity to its setting and keeping us intrigued for the most part in its quiet moments.
Kendrick and Park deliver engaging and believable performances as a couple experiencing the familiar "meet-the-parents" friction, but the leads lack chemistry, making the romance itself unconvincing. While I love folk horror as much as the next person, the supernatural elements of the film are so subtle, that they are easily overlooked until the film's finale. The ending ties everything into a proverbial and somewhat clichéd bow that'll leave some viewers dissatisfied. It is a very slow burn that suffers ever so slightly from its pacing but it still manages to deliver an unexpected payoff.
While it isn't overtly scary and it takes a while for the story to get going, there's a great red herring and plenty of little supernatural chills. In addition to Jewish folklore stories that I have a keen interest in (naming them would give too much away), Attachment explores the deep bonds of love, superstition, and the complex nature of mother-daughter relationships. It's an allegory for codependence and the dangers of imbalanced relationships.
Attachment world premiered at the Tribeca Festival on June 12, 2022.