You Won’t Be Alone is the first feature film I watched during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and while it certainly means well, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Perusing the catalog of films that would be screened at Sundance was a little overwhelming, as there are so many features and documentaries to choose from. One film that did jump out at me was You Won’t Be Alone, the debut feature from director Goran Stolevski. Set in 19th century Macedonia, the film follows a young woman taken away by a mysterious witch and turned into a witch herself. The young woman ends up exploring life in a variety of ways when she stumbles across an ability to place herself inside the skin of other people.
With such an interesting premise as that, I was looking forward to watching You Won’t Be Alone. Unfortunately, the film, while well-intentioned, didn’t do a very good job of holding my interest. The idea that the main character is sliding into the lives of other people is an interesting one, but it’s executed in such a meandering way that it all feels rather frustrating. It doesn’t help that most of the film is narrated from inside the young woman’s head. Actually, it’s not so much that most of the film is narrated by the woman’s thoughts, it’s that her dialogue is so stream-of-consciousness that it reminded me at times of boring poetry. It was hard for me to decipher at times what the young woman was talking about or what she wanted.
The witch was also disappointing in that there isn’t enough of her in the movie. Her appearance is so striking that I was actually quite excited when she first appeared, and I give all the credit in the world to the makeup artists who brought this look to life. And while the witch does have an interesting backstory, we don’t find out what it is until very late in the film. In fact, after the first act, the witch only appears at random intervals only to disappear immediately afterward. This was such a disappointment as she is by far the most interesting character in the story and I wanted so much more of her than what I received.
It wasn’t all bad though. While the story does meander far too much for my taste, there are some good moments scattered throughout the film, particularly when the young woman is experiencing life in a village. During those moments, the story and the music all came together to create some sweet moments that bring home the wonders of the little things of life. If more of the film had been like these moments, I feel I would have enjoyed it so much more.
You Won’t Be Alone tries hard but is largely a miss for me. Beautiful music and fairly convincing special effects aren’t enough to cover up a meandering story that takes far too long to make its point.