My Flesh My Blood

My Flesh My Blood

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What would you do if you had six months to live? Usually, the time frame is tighter. What would you do if they dropped a bomb and you had an hour to live? Cuddle up with the family, or go crazy?

Igor (Eryk Lubos) is a boxer with brain damage. He can’t be rational about a lot of things, especially being thrown out of his gym for aggressive behaviour. His days as a fighter are over and, because of his condition, quite soon his life. Drink, drugs and sex are available at a price and, sure, he indulges, but he wants something deeper and longer lasting. He wants a child.

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The concept is intriguing. Igor doesn’t have a wife, or a girlfriend. His face is bruised and cut, as is his attitude. Emotional involvement with this guy would stretch the limits of a woman’s patience. There is only so much you can take. Love is not a game, neither is it a sparring contest. Igor isn’t talking about love, at least not at first; he’s talking about fertility. He picks out Yen Ha (Luu De Ly), a teenage illegal immigrant, because she’s vulnerable. Marry me, he says, and I’ll give you legitimacy.

The plot line is not original, but the combination of a shy Vietnamese flower and an angry, unpredictable war horse may well be. The film belongs to Lubos. This is a performance of startling power. He understands that violence is more potent as a threat, like the rumble of a volcano. Twisted through the bloody tapestry of social isolation are threads of sentiment that bring him hope, not that there is any, only the ghost of a dream. As Yen Ha grows accustomed to the contradictory pattern of his affection for her, she weakens to the possibility that an arranged marriage might offer genuine freedom, until, quite suddenly, Igor changes the ground rules.

My Flesh My Blood loses momentum in its latter stages but, for most part, is an impressive example of Polish New Cinema.

Reviewed on: 15 Apr 2010
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A brain damaged boxer searches for love.
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Festivals:

Bradford 2011

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