Małgorzata Szumowska’s Twarz (Polish for “face” or “mug”, the latter of which is the film’s English title) delivers the pleasure of vigorous storytelling. It is scabrous, mysterious and surprisingly emotional – inspired partly by the giant statue of Christ the King in Świebodzin in western Poland, completed in 2010, the tallest statue of Jesus in the world and a fierce religious and nationalist symbol. It is the face of patriotic Poland, and this is a film to put you in mind of Eliot’s lines about preparing a face to meet the faces that you meet.
Szumowska’s movie imagines a guy named Jacek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), employed as a builder on a giant statue like this as it begins to loom surreally over the landscape. He is an amiably scruffy, long-haired metalhead living at home with his extended family, whom he annoys with his vague plans to move to London. His brash brother-in-law (Robert Talarczyk) – a man with a fondness for jokes about blacks, Muslims and Jews – tells him the Brits are “wised up” to immigrants these days and won’t let him in; he says this, moreover, with every appearance of respect. Szumowska has perhaps moved the time period forward to a Brexit-zeitgeist. Jacek has a girlfriend (Małgorzata Gorol), but the person who seems to love him most is his sister (Agniezska Podsiadlik). All these people have something in common – they are exasperated by Jacek’s appearance: dishevelled, grinningly cheeky.
Jacek - Accident - Work - Jesus
Then Jacek is involved in a horrible accident at work. Standing on Jesus’s...
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