First friend in her new school is Kasia (Anna Mucha), a strong-willed outsider who dresses in flowery garments like some New Age hippie and takes the naive hick under her wing. Entranced by Kasia’s assurance, Marysia swallows her way-out theories whole and isn’t phased even when she discovers Kasia is actually the daughter of wealthy parents. Only when Kasia tells her she must renounce God to become a complete person does Marysia break off their friendship.
Next along is cynical, waspish classmate Ewa (Anna Powierza) who does a “Clueless”-style makeover of Marysia and then enters into elaborate games of psychological domination with an almost Sapphic edge. The kicker is that Marysia emerges the tougher of the two, revealing darker corners of her soul than she would care to admit. After rejecting Ewa too, Marysia makes a surprising discovery about her two classmates.
Wajda has traveled some of this ground before in his 1960 film “Innocent Sorcerers,” but in “Miss Nobody” the story is pitched at a more spiritual level, rather than being a portrait of a rootless, amoral generation. The main problem with the pic is that too many sequences, which may have worked on the printed page, misfire badly (and sometimes comically) onscreen: Kasia’s possession by a demon she calls Dgighi, her psyching-out of a teacher who has come to register a complaint to her parents, Marysia’s lecture to her mom while coolly smoking a cigarette, and Ewa’s sexually tinged mind games. And the device of Marysia speaking her innermost thoughts on camera is more often clumsy than not.
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The fault lies not only in Wajda’s direction, which isn’t stylized enough to make this kind of material work, but also in the main thesps’ inexperience. Wielgucka (who surprisingly got a special mention from the Berlin jury for her “promising” performance) has the right kind of bruised-angel looks but can’t carry the dramatic weight of the part. As the two other girls, Mucha and Powierza are barely adequate. The strong lineup of seasoned adult players is essentially a group of bystanders.
Technically, the film is fine, with atmospheric underscoring by Andrzej Korzynski and clean lensing by Krzysztof Ptak.