Director: Jan P. Matuszynski
Starring: Andrzej Seweryn, Dawid Ogrodnik, Aleksandra Konieczna. Poland. 2h 3m
I was quite desperate to see this movie as Zdzisław Beksinski is one of my all time favourite painters and his biography is quite bleak, so in the right hands this film should have been glorious and it’s absolutely captivating.
Apart from the occasional trips to the cemetery this bleak and unusual story unfolds around one bizarre family residing in neighbouring Brutalist highrises on the edge of Warsaw. Zdzisław (Seweryn) a world famous surrealist painter, his long suffering wife Zofia (Konieczna) and a few aged relatives who are dying in the spare rooms, across from them resides the creepy eccentric Tomasz (Ogrodnik) who’s crazy outbursts often rock the family but his love for music outweighs any adoration for his family.
The claustrophobia bleeds away thanks to some inventive camerawork and mesmerising performances which mimic the true story picture perfect, we know this as Zdzisław spent the last of his days recording his day to day life on a home camera. Some of the original shots are remade into this dysfunctional adventure, as well as Tomasz tv interviews where he claimed to be a real life vampire.
The atmosphere is pretty dank but honest, Zofia complains about the smells of the neighbours cooking rats in the apartment below and stressing out over the antics of her son and husband fighting, it’s all too much for her to take, Zdzislaw soldiers on without her, setting up his studio with paints and his favourite 8 tracks, trying to reconcile with his son who is having his own suicidal issues.
The overall vibe is reminiscent of any typical Eastern European black comedy, some log drawn out moments followed by peculiar dialogue, but the odd glimpse of artwork is a cherry topping that almost made me forget what the ending would inevitably depict, and it’s a sudden and brutal as I had imagined, a real gut twister. The only downside is that the artwork isn’t made a full feature even for one montage, it would have been awesome for the fans…
R: I’m a Killer (2016), Taxidermia (2006)
L: Artist Biographies