Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Jacek (Mateusz Kościukiewicz), a congenial, life- and heavy metal-loving longhaired slacker in a small Polish town who dreams of moving to London, has a job working on the construction of the world’s tallest statue of Jesus (which really does exist, in the town of Świebodzin in western Poland). A horrific on-the-job accident leads to Jacek becoming the first recipient of a face transplant in the country, an event that leaves him looking like a close relative of Frankenstein’s monster. All of a sudden, he becomes persona non grata in his own village, as former friends and family withdraw from him, leading to an identity crisis that threatens his very being… This energetic blend of farce and tragedy from director Małgorzata Szumowska (Body, VIFF 15) shows that contemporary Polish society and the institutions that uphold it—state and church, primarily—are more concerned with keeping up appearances than actually helping people in need. Her film moves at a breathless pace and serves as a pithy and occasionally scathing skewering of Polish hypocrisy and prejudice.
"[Szumowska’s film] delivers the pleasure of vigorous storytelling. It is scabrous, mysterious and surprisingly emotional… Mug is a strange, engaging film—well and potently acted and directed, a drama that puts you inside its extended community with a mix of robust realism and a streak of fantasy comedy."—Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
Silver Bear: Grand Jury Prize, Berlin 18