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Szumowska’s MUG won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlinale in 2018. Her darkly satirical, highly enjoyable tragi-comedy highlights the shallowness and hypocrisy of a small-minded-town.
We follow Jacek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz); an amiable, constantly dishevelled builder who loves heavy metal, his dog and larking around with his girlfriend (Malgorzata Gorol). Something of a rebel in his home town, he dreams of leaving. Then, while working on a construction site helping to build a towering stature of Chris, he has an accident and is left severely disfigured. After fun loving Jacek is disfigured whilst working on the largest statue of Jesus, he becomes the first person in Poland to receive a face transplant, which leads to his status as a national hero and martyr.
Scabrous and strangely affecting, MUG’s considerable strength lies in inventive stylistic touches and a refusal to descend into melodrama. For all the problems Jacek must confront after the transformation of his appearance Szumowska (and her extremely talented cinematographer Michal Englert) leave ample room for comedy in what she has described as a ‘fairy tale for adults’