The film is extraordinary not only in its psychological theme, but in the way it succeeds in prompting a kind of inwardness that we expect in the best novels and short stories, but which seems to be much more difficult to accomplish in film.
Keith Oatley and Maja Djikic have written a long review of this film (click here to access it). In the review, we discuss not only the emotions that we experience as viewers, but the film's distinctive language and tropes that make them possible. Many of the modes of this film are familiar in literary theory. One is metaphor. A recurring metaphor in the film is the surface of a swimming pool as the border between life above and death beneath, of consciousness above and the unconscious below. A second mode is metonymy: close-ups of Julie's expressionless face—a part for the whole of her being—with cuts to what she is looking at. Then there is the use of a very accomplished music line (composed by Zbigniew Preisner) to represent and prompt in the audience a sequence of emotions in counterpoint with the plot-line of events and conversation. Then there is a theme of the gradual internalization of others, who come to exist for Julie as integral parts of her mind despite her attempts to exclude other people. These internalizations are depicted by filmic memory images.
This is a film of transformation, in which despite Julie's best efforts to live only a physical life, chance encounters start to bring people into her internal world. It is a film that moves us, extends us, transforms us.