Warsaw Talents 2019 – Ignas Jonynas

Story of Voyeurism:
Ignas Jonynas’s “Invisible” doubts an Identity

Lithuanian director Ignas Jonynas’s 2019 film Invisible revolves around Jonas (Dainius Kazlauskas) who fakes blindness to enter a TV dance contest. In Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger, David Locke struggles with identity and disassembles dead businessman David Robertson, ending up murdered after a psychological cinematic trip because of Robertson’s criminal activities. Much in the same way, Invisible stages a relationship between a lonely man and an external power through the lens of televised spectacle.

This story about the monstrosity of hegemony and desires also captivates the audience as much as it does its protagonist. Jonas wants to participate in a TV dance show but he fails short of the requirements of mainstream media. He resorts to the hideous approach of profiting from a traumatic experience when he acts as if he were blind, which leads to his eventual success. His emotional attachment to his dancing partner Saule (Paulina Taujanskaité) complicates Jonas’s struggle, considering she is the lover of TV producer Remigijus (Dmitrijus Denisiukas).

The dance choreography reveals the protagonist’s psychological status – his dancing style is passionately nervous. On the first day he’s instructed to try some specific dancing exercises, which he refuses to move autonomously and amorphously. Remigijus, on the other hand, embodies the male gaze. His privilege to watch is articulated by every optical frame – he watches dancers on the screen during the show and tells the jury members how to evaluate participants, spying on Jonas and trying to invade Saule’s privacy.

The refined minimal movement of Denis Luschick’s camera in the cold periphery of Ukraine and Lithuania also goes behind the scenes of the hegemonic institution of mainstream media. The rhythm of the story mirrors that of a ballet in which characters with painful backgrounds are dancing, praying or fighting each other.

The camera explores bodies as the expression of a mental state – tortures, struggles or even loneliness. The bodies of characters are installed in specific psycho-emotional environments to paint their cinematic portrait. In a poignant shower scene, Saule and Jonas are both naked and exposed, while the audience can also feel the guilty pleasure of voyeurism. The scene articulates on their current state as there’s a wall that divides Saule and Jonas. The wall is unbreakable and characters are revealed.

It’s an intriguing story at the intersection between exhibitionism and voyeurism, which asks us to beware of our intentions . Jonas’s desire of changing his entire identity finally comes true, but he ends up like David Locke in The Passenger: meant to be hidden but spotted by the wrong onlooker.

Levan Tskhovrebadze
Warsaw Critics Project 2019