The story of this movie, by first-timer Mateusz Pacewicz, is intense and uncompromising in many ways. It is reminiscent of Sweet Hereafter in both its pace and issues, but all in a very different frame. Playing on the idea of Corpus Christi, this is as much a personal tale as it is an allegory. But those overtones only come to you post-film thanks to its powerful presentation. Jan Komasa (@Suicide Room) took Pacewicz’s script and created a film that has been celebrated around the world.
And within those efforts by Pacewicz, Bartosz Bielenia owns this film; we spend almost the entire two hours watching Bielenia struggle and rejoice in life. There are a number of good performances around him, but they are all supporting in nature. If I were to call out anyone, it would be his two hosts in the lumber town, Aleksandra Konieczna and Eliza Rycembel, who both have several, quietly complex levels.
The film is inexorable and wonderful and painful all at once. It is aspirational and unflinching. It is a mirror to our best and worst selves. And it’s a reminder of what we can all be, and sometimes what we all are. I don’t mean to wax overly poetic, but while the experience of watching the movie is very down-to-earth, in trying to explain it, a string of superlatives just naturally comes to mind. The ending takes time to absorb and, no doubt, stirs reactions both good and bad. Not everyone who sees the film will agree it works, but, on reflection, I think it does.
Pacewicz continues to impress me with his choice of material and his ability to navigate the darker side of humanity with heart. This is film worth seeing, but it is intense enough that I don’t know if I’d watch it again more than once down the road. But I’m certainly glad I saw it at least this once.