This intense chamber drama centers on an ambitious young industrial designer who is summoned home to help his father and sister. Both the aristocratic family he fled in shame and scorn, and their dilapidated country estate, bathed in an oppressively nostalgic light, prove ultimately inescapable.
Next in our retrospective devoted to one of the great Polish directors, Krzysztof Zanussi, is his second feature film, a competitor in the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. In it, a member of Poland’s new generation returns home to confront—and throw off—the shackles of his (and his country’s) past.
Through supremely subtle delivery if dialogue, vividly convincing character acting and careful plot structuring, Zanuzzi powerfully evokes the national drama of a self-willed modernism haunted by the irrepressible persistence of a once grand past. Remarkable how much dramatic energy can be conveyed in skilfully used dialogue. The final scene is a magnificently rendered moment of anagnorisis and a powerful climax.
Zanussi returns with another quite intimate realistic drama. A young man, estranged from his family, finally returns home after he receives news of his father's deteriorating health. This film really made me think of the biblical story of Lot's wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at the burning city of Sodom. Whether or not this parallel was deliberate or not is uncertain to me though.
PC. A camera job that prints a gigantic leap from the previous film to this: starting from a fractional variant of the kammerspeil, in which between the space of a dilapidated mansion (or a company's office, as the beginning) and the movements of the actors, flows a camera in permanent travellings with zooms that both densify and distort the feel of a psychodrama in theatrical retraction. Zanussi becomes a composer.
Another gem from Zanussi, "Family Life" contains one of the most virtuoso opening sequences in all cinema. Formidable camerawork and meticulous mise-en-scène creates a luminous space of odd purity, only to have the rest of the action moved into an impure family setting with a dying dad and a not so sane sister. One feels slightly let down but the microcosm of Polish society in the country villa is conveyed well.
Who knows what Visconti (decadent bourgeoisie) or Bergman (family hatred) could have done with this material but what Zanussi achieves is already impressive. The script is clever, the cinematography and camera work elegant. Whoever you want to be, wherever you are, you simply don´t escape your family (and you can almost watch "Family life" as a horror film). It is where you´re from, who you are. Perverse melancholy.
Very mixed about this one. Lots of great things going for it, but the acting was weak and Zanussi didn't manage to make it filmic throughout, despite all of the awesome camerawork. Memorable though, definitely. The story, the house, the production design and costumes... It's like they're from a great movie that's hiding beneath this one.
a decent filmic chamber drama...with a sociological funnybone (politics = sociology)....can i say these first two films in MUBI's Zanussi retrospective kinda went in one mind's eye and out the other? It's not that they're bad movies, it's just that they don't jibe with my tastes so much...still, I'll keep watching, cuz i liked the final scene here....