Neither tearfully sentimental nor coldly scientific, Life Feels Good, Maciej Pieprzyca’s film about a man with cerebral palsy, instead proves oddly entertaining. The protagonist, diagnosed as mentally ‘retarded’ since childhood, delivers interior monologues that supply ironically normal counterpoint to the contorted sounds and movements he makes. Brilliantly thesped by non-disabled actors playing the character as both child and grown-up, the film captures as much wonderment as frustration, and is filled with fully fleshed-out characters that defy simple categorization.
Pieprzyca places the character of Mateusz squarely at his story’s centre. While his mother (Dorota Kolak) wheels him around and showers him with kisses and laughter, his father (Arkadiusz Jakubik) fires his imagination. As he grows up, Mateusz (his role now undertaken by David Ogrodnik) even wins a loving girlfriend (Anna Karczmarczyk). But, as with all his attempts to influence the world around him, his efforts to help her backfire.
Pieprzyca situates his film in that gap between the emotional ‘vegetable’ seen by even the kindliest, and the smart, sardonic, inner Mateusz. His erratic movements and unintelligible sounds register less as symptoms of disease than as a language that others are too unimaginative to interpret.
Winner, Grand Prix & Audience Award, Montreal World Film Festival
Winner, Silver Lion, Gdynia Film Festival