Film review: ‘Lasting’ 

Article published on March 20, 2013
Article published on March 20, 2013
Some moments can completely change our life, an incident which starts a devastating turn of events reeling. This Polish-Spanish co-production is an emotional story of a couple of Polish students whose carefree holiday in Spain becomes an unexpected nightmare

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.

Cin­e­matic fin­ery

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. 

Becoming an adult is never easyJakub 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.

Im­ages: cour­tesy of © 'Nieu­lotne' of­fi­cial face­book page/ video (cc) AP­Manana/ youtube