Through the restricted prism of his loved ones and the heated, hermetic existence they shared, Jan P. Matuszynski's based-on-real-events drama The Last Family surveys nearly 30 years in the life of the Polish painter Zdzisław Beksinski (1929–2005). Set almost entirely inside cramped apartments, the movie is a firm study of a family whose supposed Important Man -- an inelegant, frequently boorish type who, by his own admission, "eats like a pig," and, in bookending scenes, shares upsetting sexual fantasies in excruciating detail -- is but one of many moving parts.
The through-the-years form of Robert Bolesto's screenplay might strike one as familiar, in the mold of the studio biopic, but the actual concerns of Matuszynski and Bolesto are decidedly not. Most of the dramatic focal points belong to Tomasz (Dawid Ogrodnik), the son of Beksinski (Andrzej Seweryn) and his wife Zofia (Aleksandra Konieczna). The story proper kicks off in 1977, with Beksinski and Zofia — who share their apartment with their mothers — picking out a nearby flat for Tomasz. Wracked with sexual hangups and suicidal thoughts ("I only consider knives and razor blades in relation to my own wrists," he says), Tomasz requires constant care from both of his parents, who worry over his well-being.
Matuszynski (here making his feature debut; he's previously made shorts and documentaries) and cinematographer Kacper Fertacz stage most of their widescreen imagery at a master shot–type remove, emphasizing the interior architecture of the spaces as much as the people within them. The movie sticks in the mind not as a full-on, time-honored biopic but as a queasily warts-and-all peeling back of a family dynamic that happened to involve a figure of cultish renown.