Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Agnieszka Podsiadlik, Małgorzata Gorol
Acclaimed writer-director Małgorzata Szumowska’s (In the Name of, Body) darkly satirical, enormously enjoyable tragicomedy Mug won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlinale.
A fable of small-town shallowness and hypocrisy, it follows Jacek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz); an amiable, constantly dishevelled builder who loves heavy metal, his dog and larking around with his girlfriend (Małgorzata Gorol). He’s also something of a rebel in his home town and dreams of leaving it. But while working on a construction site (helping to build a towering statue of Christ), he has an accident and is left severely disfigured.
After undergoing Poland’s first facial transplant he prepares to return home. But, hailing from a town where casual slurs against gypsies are heard at the building site and offensively racist jokes told across dinner tables, what kind of reception will he receive?
Scabrous and strangely affecting, Mug‘s considerable strength lies in inventive stylistic touches and a refusal to descend into melodrama. For all the problems Jacek must confront after the transformation of his appearance, Szumowska (and her extremely talented cinematographer, Michal Englert) leave ample room for comedy in what she has described as a “fairytale for adults”.