Mug, Dir. Malgorzata Szumowska, Poland, 2018, 92 min, Polish with English subtitles
Deep-rooted prejudice comes under pressure in Polish writer and director Małgorzata Szumowska's Mug, which offers deadpan farce, identity crisis and comedic social commentary.
Jacek is a good-natured, long-haired metal lover with a lust for life and little concern about how he is viewed by others. He drives a jalopy, lives with his family and works on a construction site where they are building a giant Rio-rivalling statue of Jesus. It’s on the job that he suffers a massive accident that transforms him into a candidate for the country’s first face transplant.
Like Szumowska’s previous films, from Stranger (2004) to Body (2015), Mug explores the tension between body and mind as physical changes prompt existential crises. Her latest goes further than the individual body: the opening scene, showing the frenzy of a Black Friday-style shopping spree, sets the tone for the film’s exposure of the viciousness beneath the town’s civil and piously Catholic veneer.