Thursday, October 27, 2016

These Daughters of Mine (orig. Moje córki krowy) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*

Dziennik Łodzki (D. Pawłowski) review* (A. Siennica) review* (D. Romanowska) review* (K. Polaski) review* (Ł. Adamski) review* (V. Scarpa) review
Eye For Film (J. Kermode) review
Pop Matters (A. Ramon) review

These Daughters of Mine (orig. Moje córki krowy) [2015] [IMDb] []* (written and directed by Kinga Dębska [IMDb] []*) though with a rather strong, arguably somewhat off-putting Polish title -- literally "My Cow-like Daughters" (Note here to non-Polish speaking Readers that the the film was written and directed a woman) -- is actually a quite endearing bitter-sweet "dramedy" about two grown women in their late 30s-40s, sisters, though quite different, suddenly facing the impending deaths of their aging parents.  The film played recently at the 2016 Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Marta (played by Agata Kulesza [IMDb] []* who'd be familiar to many Viewers / Readers here as she played the role of the strong willed "Aunt Wanda" in the Oscar winning film Ida [2013] of a few years back) was strong willed / no nonsense forty-something year old "career woman" / actress.  Though never married, she did have a daughter Zuzia (played by Maria Dębska [IMDb] []*) in her late teens.  Interestingly enough, though "never married," it wasn't as if she wasn't against marriage per se.  But she did have her standards, AND, even more interestingly, it was _her dad_ Tadeusz (played by Marian Dziędziel [IMDb] []*) who had driven off pretty much every serious suitor that she ever had.  In the film they talk about this at one point: "Dad, you know that you drove away every guy that I ever brought home."  "But you wouldn't have been happy with any of them."  "[Laughing], you're probably right ... [but ...]" 

Marta's younger sister Kasia (played wonderfully by Gabriela Muskała [IMDb] []*) was quite the opposite of her.  Simpler though no dummy, she was a 2nd grade elementary school teacher, married to Grzegorz (played by Marcin Dorociński [IMDb] []*) naturally unemployed, and with a son, Filip (played by Jeremi Protas [IMDb] []*) in his early teens.  Though not strictly necessary (Kasia was working, and Grzegorz would have presumably been on some kind of public assistance) Kasia and her family had been living with (and "looking after") Marta's and her parents -- again Tadeusz (played by Marian Dziędziel [IMDb] []*) and Elżbieta (played by Małgorzata Niemirska [IMDb] []*) -- in the parents' quite nice home in basically "suburban Warsaw" (Tadeusz had been some kind of an architect) while Marta and her daughter lived in a quite nice apartment somewhere in the city.

And such pleasant "stasis" had existed for some time: Marta dedicated more to career, Kasia more (perhaps somewhat superficially) to family.  Both felt basically happy / fulfilled / needed.

Then ... while "luckily" actually visiting a local hospital for a routine medical exam, mom has _a massive stroke_, right there in one of the hospital's bathrooms.  Since she was "right there in the hospital," she did not die, but needless to say, her prognosis was not good.  The stroke was massive, the damage was massive, her and her family's lives were now massively changed.

What now?  Marta previously could focus primarily on career.  Kasia, yes, "was there" to "take care of her parents" BUT, "it had been sooo easy" when ... they still _didn't really need_  "to be taken care of" ...  Then Tadeusz, "no spring chicken" also with his own previous health issues suddenly faced the previously inconceivable prospect of losing his wife of many, many years (before he was to go...).  Indeed, with her first in a coma and then with massive neurological damage, in many respects his previous life with her had already ended or certainly had radically changed (and he / nobody had had a real chance to say goodbye ...).  What now indeed?

The rest of the story ensues ...  

Honestly, this proved to be a remarkable film about death and dying and the changes that happen within a family when suddenly "the statis" (the way "things always were") in a family's life suddenly changes.

Subtitles and somewhat difficult for an American to understand original Polish title notwithstanding, this is an excellent grown family film!  Good / great job!    

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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