Lasting (Nieulotne): Sundance Review
Jakub Gierszal goes from Valencia to Poland in his tale of young lovers dealing with a horrible secret.
PARK CITY — An aching look at first love in peril, Jacek Borcuch's Lasting shows viewers just enough of its protagonists' bliss to make us brokenhearted at the prospect of its premature end. Fine-tuned on every level, it's unshowy but should generate strong enough word-of-mouth to succeed at the arthouse.
Jakub Gierszal and Magdalena Berus are Michal and Karina, college students who met in Poland and are enjoying an Edenic working holiday with Michal's family in Valencia. Blonde and radiating innocence, they seem to have been born to lose their virginity together. Their first scenes here -- jumping off a bridge together, rolling around in the grass and waking up back home with scrached-up torsos -- use the fewest possible brushstrokes to conjure a first love affair.
But on a solo scuba outing at a nearby lake, something terrible happens to Michal, disturbing him deeply and sending him back to school with a secret. When he shares it with Karina upon her own return to campus -- we watch the revelation from a distance, through a restaurant window -- it's more than she can handle. She's left alone to cope with her own life-changing news, which she never gets a chance to share.
Borcuch effectively evokes the deep sorrow of being alienated from the only person whose comfort you need; the film isn't indulgently mopey, but the light in Michal's and Karina's eyes has given way to dark circles and hopelessness, and neither is making very good decisions. A scene in which Karina tries to lose herself at a party recalls a half-dozen similar scenes in recent films, but without the condescension or melodrama they usually entail.
A classroom scene, in which a professor discusses how a single thing can have entirely different properties in daylight and at night, holds out hope for a game-changing perspective shift. But for 20 year-olds with no way of telling the end of the world from a navigable crisis, nothing is certain.
Production Company: Manana
Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Angela Molina, Juanjo Ballesta, Joanna Kulig, Andrzej Chyra
Director-Screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch
Producers: Piotr Kobus, Agnieszka Drewno
Director of photography: MichałEnglert
Production designer: Elwira Pluta
Music: Daniel Bloom
Costume designer: Katarzyna Lewinska
Editor: Beata Walentowska
Sales: AP Manana
No rating, 92 minutes