Hollywood’s fascination with cancer is nothing new. From Arthur Hiller’s “love means never having to say you’re sorry” Love Story to this year’s The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, cinema has explored both the harrowing and tragic illness, as well as the shattering effect on the lives of those it encompasses. But one of the most intriguing new films on the subject is Bartek Prokopowicz’s Chemo, his debut feature inspired by the life of his wife Magdalena Prokopowicz. Having previously worked with filmmakers such as Krzysztof Krauze, Filip Bajon and Andrzej Wajda, Prokopowicz’s film will have its premiere at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival this weekend.
The official synopsis goes as follows:
Fashion photographer Benek is facing personal and professional crises and his thoughts are on suicide. But before he gets around to it, he meets an eccentric girl who understands and shares his obsession with death. They embark on a carefree romance until Benek wakes up to the harsh reality that Lena has cancer and doesn’t want to seek treatment. Their situation is further complicated when Lena unexpectedly becomes pregnant and, despite the doctors’ prognosis, the couple decide to go through with the pregnancy. The debuting Polish director dedicated the film to his wife who died of cancer in 2012. While the story draws on the filmmaker’s own traumatic experiences, it is not autobiographical, but instead carries a more universal message that love is the only thing which helps a person live. Prokopowicz imaginatively incorporates animated segments to lighten up the inevitable tragic tone of the film, while its melancholy yet playful spirit is further enhanced by sensitive and remarkably convincing performances from Agnieszka Żulewska and Tomasz Schuchardt.
Check out the trailer below before the film screens out of competition on July 4.