One of the greatest events of this year’s World Film Festival in Montreal was a Polish production Life Feels Good (Chce Sie Zyc) directed by Maciej Pieprzyca. Both the press show and the official première with the authors at the festival were crowned with ten-minute standing ovation and critics unanimously consider the picture by a Polish director comparable to legendary My Left Foot by Jim Sheridan, whose world première was also held at a festival in Montreal.
Life Feels Good is a film inspired by real life — a story of a boy, Mateusz, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is considered ‘a vegetable’ by the doctors and society. Mateusz by all means wants to prove it is quite the opposite: he thinks, feels and experiences things like others, yet he constantly faces the resistance of doctors, guardians and family, who are not aware of his intelligence.
The turning point in Mateusz’s case is the meeting of a teacher of Bliss language (played by Anna Nehrebecka, an unforgettable star of Promissed Land (Ziemia Obiecana) by Andrzej Wajda) who discovers the boy’s lively and clear mind.
Among many possible interpretations of the film, the one that I consider the most important deals with both the main character’s victorious struggle against misfortunes, and his personal way to happiness. Pieprzyca shows that cheerfulness helps to cope with the most difficult moments in our lives and that we should never give up.
Life Feels Good has the convention of the tragicomedy, combining dramatic picture of reality with clear and witty portrait of the main character and often ironic image of Polish society.
Our life is complicated. What seems to be a tragedy, sparkle with colours on the outside.
“I did not want the film to be overwhelmingly sad. What I meant was an optimistic message” said Maciej Pieprzyca in Montreal. “I wanted the story to be touching but also to allow the viewers to find in Mateusz somebody close to them.”
Dawid Ogrodnik, a recent débutant, created a great portrayal of the main character. His talent, passion and devotion resemble of the commitment of young Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot by Jim Sheridan. Although it is Ogrodnik’s only second role in his life, it looks that there is a great and long career ahead of him.At the festival in Montreal, Ogrodnik mentioned that he had prepared for this role with determination for many months. He went through a very intensive training, he met with disabled people, worked under the supervision of a pantomime artist. The effect is marvellous.
Dawid Ogrodnik says: “I had to bring myself to my role, to find this character in myself, to become Mateusz. It took a long time, but I guess there came a moment of a total breakthrough. I was no longer Dawid Ogrodnik, a young actor from Poland. I became Mateusz from the story, a seriously ill boy, from whom I learnt humility, perseverance and optimistic attitude. Once the film was done, I realized that life really feels good.”
The achievements of Maciej Pieprzyca, the author of Life Feels Good, include a few worthwhile titles: TV productions Inferno and St Barbara’s Day (Barbórka), and full-length picture Splinters (Drzazgi), for which he received Directorial Début Award at the Polish Film Festival in 2008. Nevertheless, Life Feels Good is, without a doubt, is b y far his best and most mature proposition.
Edited by Christina Stojanova
© FIPRESCI 2013