Lasting (12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival) Review

Polish students Michał (Jakub Gierszał) and Karina (Magdalena Berus) are working the summer holiday before College in Spain at Michał's family farm, he doing manual labour and repairing a motorbike while she works in a field. They have fallen in love, and it's hit hard. They spend their spare time drinking wine, chatting with his family members, drinking wine over supper, and at every moment they have alone together, making love. At the start of the film, we see them jumping off a bridge together into a lake. Life feels good when you are young and in love.

However, it can't last. Scuba-diving alone in a lake, Michał is confronted by the owner of the land, who orders him off his property and confiscates Michał's diving gear and motorbike. The altercation ends up with Michał hitting the man over the head with an oxygen tank, and sinking the him in the lake to hide the evidence. Michał returns to Poland and starts his studies. When Karina rejoins him, he confesses what he has done to her, the only person he's told. She reacts badly, and has a problem of her own she has not told him about...

Despite that melodramatic turn of events, Lasting (Nieulotne) isn't a thriller. Writer/director Jacek Brocuch is more interested in putting his young lovers under the microscope, attentive to the shifts and moods of their relationship. At the halfway point of a shortish running time, he shifts the focus from Michał to Karina and her own fallout from the holiday that she is having to deal with. That's not hard to guess, though I won't reveal it, though the film's implicit equation of manslaughter (arguably) with

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abortion (which is illegal in Poland)
is one quite a few people may demur at. One thing you can say about Lasting that, as a story, it's not an unfamiliar one, and you may well have much more sympathy for her than for him. But it is a well-observed, well-acted and stylishly-made one, with more emphasis on mood than plot mechanics.

Michał Englert's Scope cinematography won him an award at Sundance in 2013, and it's easy to see why: the warm vibrant colours of Spain in the first third are offset against the more muted palette of Poland for the rest of the film, the shorter high and the longer comedown. Daniel Bloom's music adds to the effect. Gierszał was the lead in recent Polish films such as Suicide Room and Yuma (the latter released briefly in the UK, the former not) while this is Berus's second film, but both are very watchable in the major roles. Angela Molina plays Michał's Spanish aunt.

Your reaction to Lasting may depend on your reaction to younger people and their overwhelming first love. If you buy that, you buy this film. It doesn't do anything groundbreaking, but what it does, it does well.

Lasting plays at the 12th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival in London. A Britosh release is TBA.



out of 10

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