The world premiere of Lasting ('Nieulotne') took place at the 2013 sundance film festival. The new film by Jacek Borcuch, who is one of the most respected and internationally recognised directors of the young Polish generation, was nominated for the 'world cinema dramatic competition' at sundance alongside eleven other titles.
What seems like a simple story on young adult life received very good reviews from international film critics, including a cinematography gong for Michał Englert. Englert has also won awards for his work with Polish iconic director Malgoska Szumowska on such movies as Elles, a Franco-Polish production starring Juliette Binoche.
Heaven and hell; voices of Polish youth
Lasting is the second movie by Borcuch, coming warm on the heels of 2011’s national oscar-selection All That I Love. The 42-year-old director proves his talent in telling haunting stories about young people by building a very intimate study of confrontation between youth and adultery, about young people who are exploring life in all its colours, be it through punk music as in his previous movie or the 'summer of expat love' in this latest. Lasting thereby owns up to a powerful and vivid portrayal of the life of today's generation of Polish students, as Borcuch examines their struggles, goals and dreams all the while. His storytelling is reminiscent in its references to the cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni or Xavier Dolan. The action is set in two main dimensions, with many symbolic scenes and understatements.
Read ‘Jacek Borcuch, Poland’s 2011 Oscar candidate: ‘America doesn’t impress me’’ on cafebabel.com
The film has two distinct segments. In the first one, we observe the blossoming romance between Michał (Jakub Gierszał) and Karina (Magdalena Berus), two Polish students who fall in love during their summer jobs at Spanish wine vineyards. The sun, calm weather and the beautiful landscapes of Spain reflect the mood of their first love. Unexpectedly, the climate of a bucolic tale is harshly interrupted by a tragic accident. Whilst the Eden-like part of the movie, viewed from the male perspective, provokes a wealth of genuine emotion, the second part delves into a dark psychodrama viewed from the female perspective, as the characters return to the harsher reality that is their native Poland. Here, they must face the real problems of adultery and the mark of the mystery their characters carry. With the plot converted to the backdrop of grey, smoggy Krakow, the story becomes less clear. At times, the plot seems convoluted with too many scenes with strange, inexplicable actions by its characters.
Although the second half of the movie is weaker in maintaining the overall tension of the movie, its striking visual beauty is ever-present. The climate of the city in the fading lights of autumn exemplifies the emotional situation between Jakub and Karina powerfully as we observe that the characters getting more and more lost. Besides the visual beauty created in the cinematography of Michal Englert and the ambient music of composer Daniel Bloom, the power of the movie is also in its engaging performances.
Jakub Gierszał, who is one the hottest and most talented of young Polish actors today, gives a wonderful display of his skills as Michał, with a galvanised and strong performance. Magdalena Berus is most moving in scenes hinged on emotional expression thanks to her powerfully subtle body language. There are also strong supporting performances from the famous Spanish actors Juan José Ballesta and Ángela Molina (who starred in the movies of Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar). Iin the story of Michał and Karina, there will be no place for simple resolutions. The final scene throws open new questions, but also gives the audience a flash of hope.