EO (2022) – Film Review

EO (2022) – Film Review

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Cast: Hola, Tako, Marietta
Certificate: 15

By Sarah Morgan

Critics have been braying about EO for a long time. But can a movie whose ‘star’ is a sad-eyed grey donkey really be worth your time?

EO (2022) – Film Review coverWell, yes, as it turns out. The donkey is also pretty fabulous (actually, it’s ‘played’ by several different animals; you can tell if you look closely too), but it’s not really about him – director Jerzy Skolimowski, who co-wrote the screenplay with his wife, producer Ewa Piaskowska, merely uses the animal to comment on a wider topic, namely the inhumanity of man.


When we first meet EO, he’s appearing in a circus act with a young woman who clearly dotes on him. Well fed and cared for, his life changes when the travelling players are accosted by animal rights protestors who claim that all performing animals are cruelly treated and therefore should be released. It’s a noble, well-meaning thought, but when the authorities agree, EO is left in limbo – or at least left to his own devices, wandering from place to place and person to person.

Skolimowski says the plot was inspired by director Robert Bresson’s 1966 drama Au Hasard Balthazar, but those not familiar with French New Wave movies may draw comparisons with Anna Sewell’s classic novel Black Beauty or the 1964 Hollywood film The Yellow Rolls-Royce, in which the titular car is passed onto different owners, acting as a conduit for their stories.

But where the motor falls into the hands of an aristocrat, a gangster and a wealthy widow, EO becomes depressed while working at an upmarket stables where he’s forced to fetch and carry while the horses are pampered and allowed to run free. After that, he witnesses the horrors of deforestation while giving children rides through the woods, almost falls foul of hunters, is attacked by football hooligans who believe his braying cost them an important match, kills the cruel owner of a fur farm, witnesses a murder and gives comfort to a troubled young man.

EO (2022) – Film Review bluray


However, on escaping the home of the latter’s unsympathetic but wealthy stepmother, EO wanders into an entirely different scenario, one from which he cannot flee.

The villains here are certainly the humans who cross EO’s path. That may sound as if the film could get a little preachy, and perhaps in lesser hands than Skolimowski it might have done. Instead, the Polish master manages to put across the story in a more subtle manner, but without ever leaving us in any doubt where our sympathies should lie. No wonder it received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year; it’s just a shame it missed out to the all-conquering All Quiet on the Western Front.

Special features:
● Jerzy Skolimowski & Ewa Piaskowska on the making of EO (2022, 27 mins): director Jerzy Skolimowski and co-writer Ewa Piaskowska discuss the making of EO at the New York Film Festival
● Skolimowski A to Ż (2023, 53 mins): an alphabetical journey through the work of Jerzy Skolimowski with writer Michael Brooke
● High Rise Donkey (1980, 56 mins): in this Children’s Film Foundation adventure, three children who live in a tower block try to save a donkey from small-time crooks
● The Clown and His Donkey (1910, 4 mins): rare silhouette animation by Charles Armstrong depicting a clown doing tricks with his donkey Charles Armstrong depicting a clown doing tricks with his donkey
● UK trailer and assorted teasers
EO is released on Blu-ray by the BFI, £19.99

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