The Last Family details the life of painter Zdzislaw Beksinski (Andrzej Seweryn), and wastes no time trying to catch you off guard with “shocking”humor.” An aged Zdzislaw speaks about the possibility of buying a model of an 18-year old girl to sit on his face and slowly kill him within the first few minutes, giving a good sense of the largely try-hard humor here, mostly coming from our protagonist’s son: Tomek (Dawid Ogrodnik), taken to emotional outbursts that threaten to tear his whole family apart, but are still mined for laughs frequently.
There’s nothing director Jan P. Matuszyński is actually trying to say within all of this—about mental illness or work within such a melodramatic space—rather he just takes the surface level quality of Tomek’s “otherness,” and exploits it in a rather toothless way. A more puzzling admission in the film is how generally innocent Zdzislaw comes off most of the time; his wild sexual fantasies are never explored for deeper character psychology, and there’s a sense of genius the film wishes to bestow on him, allowing for his moral superiority over everyone else. The Last Family is an incredibly unpleasant experience from beginning to end, one that’s heavily misguided: signposting seriousness and introspection, as well as humor, at all the wrong times.
Published as part of New Directors/New Films 2017 | Dispatch 1.