The first episode of Glitter opens with a naked woman. This is your cue to prepare yourself for more wild nudity ahead. There is so much sex in Glitter because the three women at the center are involved in prostitution. Sex helps them achieve whatever they desire. Be it money, power, or independence. One of them, Pola (Wiktoria Filus), sleeps with a man from the crime department named Wladek (Bartek Kotschedoff) to reobtain her license for shampoo production. Men are more than willing to have sex with any woman. In fact, almost every male character in Glitter leers at the female characters. They can't quietly drink at a bar or peacefully ride on a train without being interrupted by lascivious remarks and gazes.
Since the men are horny, they become susceptible to falling into traps. Wladek's pictures are clicked when he performs sex with Pola. She uses it to blackmail him into giving back her license. On the other hand, there is Helena (Magdalena Poplawska), who works for the Security Service. What I understood about this Security Service is that a woman who works for them has to sleep with men assigned to her. She also has to help them in other operations. For instance, a microphone is taped to Helena's breast at one point to spy on a journalist, Tomas (Folco Marchi). Then there is Marysia (Matylda Giegzno), who tries to work for the Security Service for financial purposes.
Glitter has many jump cuts, giving it an "art house" vibe. However, instead of appearing tasteful, the show feels obscure and distant. One of the significant issues with Glitter is that you forget about some characters' existence as soon as their scenes are over. It's as if they don't exist between the scenes. In one of the episodes, Helena goes to a beach with Tomas, and it took me a good 10-15 minutes to recall that in a previous episode, an offer was presented to Helena by Tomas of wanting to spend a day with her. And I remembered that moment only after Tomas said, "Why did you finally go out with me?" Hell, I even forgot that we saw this journalist earlier! The same holds true for Jurek (Jędrzej Hycnar), Marysia's boyfriend. That's why I didn't blame Helena when she later forgot about a party and Tomas had to remind her.
Glitter proves to be elusive from the beginning itself. You feel as if sand is slipping from your grasp. It's hard to keep tabs on various characters (initially, at least) and equally challenging to sink your teeth into the plot. The motivations of the characters are not always clear. When Pola is caressed by a woman, she freezes. Does she become numb because she is uncomfortable or because she doesn't like women? Pola mentions having sex now and then with the person of her choice. Well, she willingly went to that woman, proceeded as per her desires, and froze as soon as she got undressed. The series never gives us a specific reason for this behavior.
But forget about the characters. There is no specific explanation given for inserting certain scenes into Glitter. Take the one where Marysia comes across her mirror image, who falls from the sky and drops into the water. What's the purpose of this visual? In another scene, we see her many reflections when a man stops himself from having sex with her. Again, what do those reflections really mean? Are they alluding to some sort of self-examination (Marysia is "seeing herself" and contemplating her situation)? Either yes or no, the intentions of these scenes are hazy at best. The solid explanation is that they are present because the director could shoot those moments in that manner.
Glitter dips its toes in Poland's political situation, but the attempts are as awkward as that scene where a man at a party is stripped naked - first for amusement, then for messaging purposes. Glitter is the kind of show where a character while drowning, is surrounded by many jellyfishes, which adds a fantasy-like element to the moment. It's one of the images that weirdly work. However, not all scenes are successful in conveying their intentions. When Wladek swims to retrieve a football, his act is filmed like a heroic rescue operation. I am not sure if we are meant to laugh at this scene or take it at face value. In another scene, Wladek and Pola's chat is constantly interrupted by a stranger. The blabbering of the stranger fails to imbue comedy, and Wladek's mounting anger does not add to the tension. There is sadness in Glitter, coming from unrequited love, but that painful cry gets muffled in this unrefined muddle.
When you binge-watch on Netflix, a message pops up on the screen asking you whether you are still watching the show or would like to start the episode from the beginning. That notification comes just once, or at least I have encountered it no more than once while continuously watching a series' multiple episodes. But while watching Glitter, for the first time in my life, I got this message thrice. It felt as if Netflix didn't trust the show and thought I had slept while sitting through it. I didn't. I was awake and more attentive toward this show than the show itself. Because I remember that scene where a wife asked Helena to sleep with her husband. As far as I know, she didn't refuse her request and sort of vaguely accepted it ("Will this make you happy?" she asks the wife, and the latter nods in agreement). But Glitter did not circle back to this conversation and dropped it entirely from its mind. Is it saving this subplot for the second season? Given my experience with the first one, I am not eager for a sequel.
Final Score- [4/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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