Mug (2018)

Małgorzata Szumowska’s [Mug] delivers the pleasure of vigorous storytelling. It is scabrous, mysterious and surprisingly emotional – inspired partly by the giant statue of Christ the King in Świebodzin in western Poland, completed in 2010, the tallest statue of Jesus in the world and a fierce religious and nationalist symbol. It is the face of patriotic Poland, and this is a film to put you in mind of Eliot’s lines about preparing a face to meet the faces that you meet.

Szumowska’s movie imagines a guy named Jacek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), employed as a builder on a giant statue like this as it begins to loom surreally over the landscape. He is an amiably scruffy, long-haired metalhead living at home with his extended family […]. Jacek has a girlfriend (Małgorzata Gorol), but the person who seems to love him most is his sister (Agniezska Podsiadlik). All these people have something in common – they are exasperated by Jacek’s appearance: dishevelled, grinningly cheeky. […] Then Jacek is involved in a horrible accident at work. Standing on Jesus’s neck, preparing for his huge head to be lowered on to the shoulders, Jacek stumbles and falls face-first into Jesus’s huge hollow concrete torso.

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, The Guardian

  • Orig. title: Twarz
  • Language: Polish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: Memento Films International (MFI)
  • Cinematography: Michał Englert
  • Editing: Jacek Drosio