The story of a well-known artistic family: legendary painter Zdzislaw Beksinski, his wife Zofia and their son Tomasz, a highly-praised music critic and translator. Their lives were far from being usual.
As renowned painter Zdzislaw Beksinski tapes everything with his beloved camcorder, a 28-year family saga unfolds through his disturbing dystopian paintings, family feuds, near-death experiences, love-hate relations and consecutive funerals. The true story of the artistic Beksinski family: Zdzislaw, his wife Zofia and their talented yet trouble-making son Tomasz.Written by
Jan P. Matuszynski, the director of the remarkable film 'Ostatnia rodzina' ('The Last Family') we saw at the Polish film festival organized by the local cinematheque was born in 1984. Part of the story in the film takes place before he has even been born, the rest during his childhood and adolescence. It is a debut film, but his achievement is even more formidable, because everything we see on screen during the two hours of projection gives the viewers a strong sense of authenticity. In many moments, if I hadn't read something about the movie, I could have sworn it was a docudrama, edited using the amateur movie film, especially since the main hero spends some time filming his own life with a video camera, one of the models that were fashionable in the '80s and' 90s. Of course, the script written by Robert Bolesto contributes to this sensation. It is very different from that of the movie 'Corki Dancing' ('Daughters of the dance' or 'The Lure') also written by him, which I saw a few days ago, a film which deals with the same period, but in a completely different style.
For many of those who lived during the communist period in Eastern Europe, the setting in which the film takes place will be very familiar. It is one of those countless bedroom neighborhoods, consisting of blocks of apartments built in a Brutalist standard style, lacking any architectural personality, in which the 'working people' of Eastern European cities lived their existences. In two such standard apartments in two standard buildings in Warsaw, located close to each other, lived from the 1970s until 2005 the painter Zdzislaw Beksinski (Andrzej Seweryn), his wife Zofia (Aleksandra Konieczna) and his son Tomasz ( Dawid Ogrodnik). The family was however, far from standard. Zdzislaw Beksinski was an extraordinary painter, his works combining surrealism, fantasy and grotesque have an expressiveness and a power of fascination that are out of the ordinary. Son Tomasz, a hardly adaptable young man with an uncommon sensibility, was a translator of films and a DJ promoting contemporary music in a Poland that was awakening from communist censorship and reconnecting to the world. Zofia, the wife and mother, was the support and balance point of the family.
'The Last Family' is apparently the filmed biography of a great artist but there is very little talk, almost none, about art. Zdzislaw Beksinski did not like speaking about his paintings, avoided public appearances, did not participate in the opening of his exhibitions. The film instead tells the biography of a family over three decades, it is a dysfunctional family, but what would a functional family mean in a dysfunctional society? The Beksinski's live by the communist standard and face the same problems as all their neighbors, and more broadly, as all the citizens of the communist bloc during that time, and later during the transition to capitalism. And yet, under these difficult conditions, Zdzislaw Beksinski created exceptional art, blowing up the barriers of the conventions and pushing the limits of the imagination. This creative process is presented indirectly, discreetly, with an emphasis on the human side and on the family relations. The actors are extraordinary, the physical resemblance of the actor Andrzej Seweryn to the painter is amazing, and everything we see on the screen is authentic and moving. Without talking explicitly about art, director Jan P. Matuszynski has made one of the best films about art, about art creators and the world around them.
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