First Reviews of "Ostatnia Rodzina" (The Last Family)
On Friday August 5, 2016, Ostatnia Rodzina (The Last Family), a film by Jan P. Matuszyński, had its world premiere screening in Main Competition at the 69th Locarno IFF. The film enjoyed positive reviews by Polish and international film critics.“Exceptional camerawork and an unerring eye for period detail”
“Most people outside Poland have never heard of the late-20th-century painter Zdzisław Beksiński, and even within the country few are familiar with director Jan P. Matuszyński. Yet for those paying attention to international arthouse cinema, The Last Family should boost name recognition for both,” writes Jay Weissberg in a review for Variety. “The film is a remarkable, frequently unsettling exercise in staged voyeurism, recreating the interdependent lives of the three members of the troubled Beksiński family. […] The Last Family is likely to pick up numerous awards on the festival circuit.”
Another film critic who predicts success on the festival circuit is Dan Fainaru of Screen Daily, who notes that “The Last Family could have benefitted from some pruning and tightening of loose ends in the interests of the dramatic intensity, but that might have dulled the rough edges that give the story its particular and pretty unique character.”
“While Matuszyński makes a point of ignoring, on purpose, everything that is going on outside the two flats, he obsessively notes the passing time. Using titles to indicate dates, and following the course of events – whether dark and spooky or funny and touching – he follows the narrative all the way to its violent ending, which is rooted in real facts but never explained, possibly because no plausible explanation has ever been offered. But then, this film is not about explaining life, but documenting its weirdness,” adds Dan Fainaru.
Jeremy Elphick, editor-in-chief of fourthreefilm.com tweeted “OSTATNIA RODZINA is Jan P. Matuszyński’s best work to date. Complex, weird, eerily funny, and conceptually fascinating.”
Praise for Performances and Directing
In their reviews for Variety and Screen Daily, the respective critics note the excellent performances by actors Andrzej Seweryn, Dawid Ogrodnik and Aleksandra Konieczna.
“A masterly performance by stage actress Aleksandra Konieczna,” writes Dan Fainaru of Screen Daily.
“The Last Family is expertly directed, with fantastic performances by actors who paid tribute to their characters on-screen,” writes Michael Sennhauser on his blog sennhausersfilmblog.ch.
Humour and Nostalgia
The Swiss website Ticino Today recognises the Polish director’s skills in combining humour and nostalgia. According to Ticino Today, Jan P. Matuszyński, while honouring Zdzisław Beksiński, managed to portray a piece of Polish history and the family whose life Beksiński so meticulously documented.
“A film that terrifies and fascinates”
The film has had positive response also among Polish film critics.
“This film will be a hit, although it won’t be easy to explain why,” writes Tadeusz Sobolewski for Kino magazine. “[…] It is yet another portrait of a strange family, in which Polish cinema has attained the highest level of authenticity and freedom.”
“The Last Family may become not only the most important picture in 2016, but also the first complete and compelling Polish film about an artist whose personality led to the emotional destruction of himself and his surroundings,” writes Maciej Kędziak in his review for Onet.pl.
Translated by Karolina Kołtun