Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Life Must Go On (orig. Żyć nie umierać) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
FilmWeb.pl listing*

Film.com.pl (G. Raubo) review*
NaEkranie.pl (O. Rogalski) review*
Onet.pl (M. Steciak) review*
Wyborska.pl (J. Szczerba) review*

Life Must Go On (orig. Żyć nie umierać) [2015] [IMDb] [FW.pl]* (directed by Maciej Migas [IMDb] [FW.pl]*, screenplay by Cezary Harasimowicz [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) is a dramedy inspired (loosely) by the humor, life and death to cancer of Polish actor Tadeusz Szymków (1958-2009) [pl.wikip]*[FW.pl]*) that played recently at the 2015 (27th annual) Polish Film Festival in America here in Chicago.

The film's about a Polish "b-actor" named Bartosz Kolano (played by Tomasz Kot [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) who's spent most of the last 20+ years of his life drinking himself into oblivion destroying virtually every relationship he's ever had, and now, confessing to his AA group meeting there by the Vistula River each day (and to us Viewers) after drinking "a half liter of vodka, day after day, every day, 365 days a year for (said) 20+ years," thanks to AA, he's been sober for 6 months.  Wonderful. 'Cept ... after the AA meeting that day, he goes to the doctor and is told he has cancer (cancer of what? guess ...) and has 3-4 months to live.

What now?  What now indeed?

His best friend, and perhaps sponsor, nicknamed Żuk (meaning "Bug", played wonderfully by Janusz Chabior [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) tells him that he has three options: He could live those 3-4 months in denial, or despair, or use those 3-4 months to make peace / amends with those that he's hurt.  Of course, he opts for "option #3" BUT WHAT MAKES THE MOVIE IS THAT THIS PROVES _NOT_ EASY.

First, he's given the "added surprise" / potential "punch in the gut" when his current girl-friend Ewka (played by Marta Malikowska [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) tells him that she's leaving him for her girlfriend.  He tries to negotiate with her "Well you'd cheat on your lesbian-lover with a heterosexual, then it wouldn't really be cheating would it."  She, young enough to be his daughter anyway, just tells him basically "I'm done." And he does understand.  Besides there are other people he needs to repair things with.

So he goes to see his ex-wife Szarlota (played by Iwona Wszołkówna [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) who, living with her husband of more than 15 years, does not know what to say: "I haven't seen you in twenty years, and here you come to say ... goodbye?"  And even when she recovers her thoughts / bearings and proceeds to be basically a nice host to a former spouse who hasn't seen in twenty years, she calmly and even kindly tells him: "Look [Bartosz], I really don't really hold any ill feelings toward you anymore.  If not in part because of you, I would not have found my (second) husband, had my wonderful kids with them.  I am sorry about your current condition, but ... [all that I can basically say is that I'm happy]."  And Bartosz again isn't even mad.  He knows who he's been and he knows that he had hurt her.

And there's a 20-something daughter, Monica (played by Paulina Gałązka [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) living way out in Budapest with a Hungarian boyfriend named Isztvan (played by Dawid Szomlo [IMDb] [FW.pl]*).  Probably the Reader would imagine (correctly) how Monica reacts to see "dad" suddenly at her doorstep after many years.  The Hungarian boyfriend is of course amusing because he speaks no Polish and Bartosz speaks no Hungarian and between the two of them them say know maybe ten words of English, both being able to say "I love ... [and point to Monika]" to which especially when "dad" does this, she just rolls her eyes ...

SOO ... wow for "comedy" / "dramedy" this is pretty dark ... Well there are "lighter moments" and things seem to go better after Bartusz goes to a Vietnamese acupuncturist named Mr. Lu (played by Nam Trinh Hoaj [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) and seems to get better.  (Why a Vietnamese acupuncturist rather than a Chinese one?  Well there's actually a former Cold War reason for this ...).  But then Reality has to return ...

So what's the point?  Did Bartusz actually get to "fix" anything?  That's probably for the Viewer to decide.  And yet the answer seems pretty clear.

A great / wonderful film for those who have "screwed up" / "accumulated regrets" in life ... and let's face it, that's probably (certainly ... if we're Christian believers) most of us ;-) 

* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser. 

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