The Last Family DVD was sitting on my bookshelf since my last visit to Warsaw. I have never liked Beksinski’s paintings, but was keen to see the film about him and his family; he was a well-known painter with quite a macabre style.
Directed in 2016 by Jan P. Matuszyński, it is a portrayal of a successful artist’s life in Warsaw before all the changes. Tomek moved from Sanok, a small town, into a high rise block on the same housing estate as his parents, who lived there with both grandmothers. He is quite depressive and disruptive individual. Fluent in English, he is passionate about the new British music and develops his own late night radio programme, to which my brother listened in the 1970’s. His suicidal tendencies are a constant worry to his family.
Both grandmothers need progressively more help and it is the wife, trained as a Romance language specialist, who is the carer. She escapes into the world of cigarette smoke by the window of her small kitchen. Tries to talk to her son about his disruptive and upsetting behaviour, while his father sets him up with a psychologist. Tomek, after several suicide attempts, succeeded in taking his own life. His father’s reaction is in keeping with his philosophy of life.
A Polish art collector, based in Paris, takes an interest in Beksiński’s paintings and eventually offers him an annual stipend in exchange for an agreed number of paintings. Some years later he writes a book about him and his family.
The Last Family received many awards from the Polish film industry and is a must-see for great acting and for the glimpses of life in Warsaw of 1970s and 1980s.