Opening 9 Apr 2015
A severely disabled man appears before a medical board that is at a complete loss how to communicate with him. The film will come full circle with this opening scene. The touching but also surprisingly uplifting story that brings us back to this point is being told in retrospect and was inspired by true events.
Mateus (Dawid Ogrodnik and Kamil Tkacz as child), born in the 1980s in Poland, has not only been diagnosed with cerebral palsy but as incapable of thought or emotion; in the insensitive words of an expert, he is a ‘vegetable’. Nevertheless, his parents and siblings fully include him in their lives. The way they talk to him, though they hardly receive any interpretable reactions, and their love and unwavering support, will foster Mateus’ perseverance to make himself understood one day.
Mateus (Ogrodnik) guides us via voice-over through his upbringing. He shares his thoughts on family, neighbors and friends, and shows us that he is a human being: witty, funny, with likes and detestations, and capable of romantic love. We will learn who eventually finds the key to his ‘universe’ and enables him to share it. The voice-over, a humorous and self-ironic commentary, prevents the film from turning ‘touching’ into ‘sentimental’. His Polish low-income family is anything but ‘picture-perfect’, but is strong and real and interesting to get to know. Though all acting is commendable, Kamil Tkacz and Dawid Ogrodnik – able-bodied actors after all – give fantastic performances as a person that can’t control the jerky and twisted movements of his deformed body, and is unable to communicate. They let his soul and his alertness shine through and make us love Mateus, not pity him.
Do stay through the credits, not to miss the last scene that shows Ogrodnik meeting Przemek, the real life inspiration to the film! (Carola A)