Life Feels Good (2013) Kinoteka 2014

April 9th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director/Writer: Maciej Pieprzyca

Dawid Ogrodnik, Doroto Kolak, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Helena Sujecka, Mikolaj Roznerski

107min  Poland  Disability Drama

Based on a true story, LIFE IS GOOD is a touchingly unsentimental portrait of life with cerebral palsy, as experienced by a young Polish man, trying his best to communicate intelligently with his family. On diagnosis, his mother is made brutally aware of his condition with no attempts to soften the blow. But despite the awkwardness and distorted bodily movements of its central character, there is a serene and almost poetic quality to this quietly observed art house piece, enhanced by soft visuals and a pleasant original soundtrack combining classical piano with soft whistling tunes. Through interior monologues we learn how normal his feelings actually are despite his flailing limbs and incoherent utterings. Masterfully played by non-impaired actors, the film manages to evoke the frustration, bewilderment and isolation of disability from all perspectives.

Mateuz (Kamil Tkacz) enjoys an emotionally stable and almost happy childhood surrounded by his traditional family of loving mother (Dorota Kolak) and inspiring father (Arkadiusz Jakubik).  The girl next door (Anna Karcmarczyk) briefly enters his life as he develops into manhood (then played by Dawid Ogrodnik), but a sexual relationship sadly eludes him. Life gets tougher in the asylum where he moves, when his mother is unable to care for him on the death of his father.  There are echoes of MY LEFT FOOT and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY and even ABUSE OF WEAKNESS here. Romance enters his life for the second time in shape of nurse Magda,  and matters start to look up but it is clear that there is also a downside to this interest that is not entirely positive, but adds well-judged, authentic texture to this disability drama with its unexpected elements and upbeat ending. Cleverly evoking the shifting sands between the real person inside and our perception of them through their outward physical being, LIFE FEELS GOOD is a worthwhile and immersive addition to the sub-genre and won the GRAND PRIX at Montreal Film Festival.  MT


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