Made up of Mikołaj Trzaska, Leszek Możdżer, Tymon Tymański, Jacek Olter and Maciej Sikała, the film presents the story of the "group of motherfuckers" - a cult jazz group called Love from the 1980s and 1990s.
Maciej Sikała, Mikołaj Trzaska, Leszek Możdżer and Tymon Tymański in Filip Dzierżawski's "Love", photo: Krakow Film Festival.
A full feature debut, Dzierżawski's film is more than a documentary about music. Love is a story about a breakthrough generation, a universal movie about the power of music, betrayed feelings and deeply embedded splinters
They started rehearsing together at the end of the 1980s. "It was some sort of suicidal energy", as members of the legendary band Love commented. Tymon Tymański, a rock'n'roll man with revolutionary aspirations, and Mikołaj Trzaska, a saxophonist and a defiant jazzman who favours improvisation over scores - they were the first two.
"I wanted to play alongside Tymon because he was a moron, a complete whack job", Trzaska reminisces. They became inseparable, united by a brotherly bond. Humorously alluding to the near erotic relationship he had with Tymański, Trzaska laughs, "I don't know if we were gay". The duo was later joined by drummer Jacek Olter and pianist Leszek Możdżer.
A collision of musical planets
Each had a strong personality - they were bound to disagree. Możdżer was a polite boy with a flawless education and an ear for turning the sound of a screeching door into a melody. He didn't get along with Trzaska, whose creativity exceeded his musical skill. Arguing about their opposed world views on a dialy basis, they competed for Tymański's attention. Despite the chain of successes, Trzaska left the band. He was replaced by another great saxophonist, Maciej Sikała, who stayed the band until 2002 when, after Jacek Olter's death, the band was dissolved.
Seven years after breaking up the act, the musicians were offered the chance to perform together again. The re-activated band was supposed to play at the popular young Off Music festival. Meeting again for rehearsals brought up old resentments. There were the musical celebrities Możdżer and Tymański on one side, earning large amounts of money, and Trzaska on the other, a musician who forfeited popularity to concentrate on non-commercial projects. In one of the film's most important scenes he presents his musical beliefs: "The way I would like to play is for every next second to be uncertain. I don't want to know anything about the future. Just like it is in real life". There was no room for comprise.
There are no simple psychological images in Dzierżawski's film. There are people who are full of contradictions, conscious about their self-worth, courageous enough to look at their reflection in the mirror. We have no way of knowing whether Trzaska left the project because of the difference of characters or because he was proud. Against the backdrop of difficult relations between the band members, Dzierżawski asks about the extent to which one can be freed from the feeling of resentment - and whether it's worth trying, because resentment is part of our experience and builds character.
On the crossroads
The film's protagonists are not afraid of these questions. They acknowledge their faults and immaturities, they put everything out in the open. Incredibly talented, passionate and imperfect, their personalities are what fuels the film. Dzierżawski listens to them carefully and doesn't side with either party. He portrays the extrovert, nonchalant, often vulgar Tymon Tymański with severity and spares no effort in criticising Mikołaj Trzaski.
Charming pictures from concert tours, video excerpts from rehearsals - "It was love" says Leszek Możdżer, using the past tense to describe relations that nowadays are mere memories. The film doesn't lack humour and emotion, but dramatic subject matter emerges from behind the amusing stories. Jacek Olter's story was already told by Krystian Matysek in the documentary Olter: a percussion genius, one of the best musicians of his generation who suffered from schizophrenia for years.
His band buddies tried to get him help. One day he jumped out of the window. Although the other members' fates were less tragic, he wasn't the only one to be living a nightmare. Then, thanks to Tymański's intervention, Maciej Sikała stopped drinking.
The Love generation
Love won the Polish competition at the 53rd Krakow Film Festival and received the Golden Hobbyhorse (Złoty Lajkonik) for the Director of the Best Film. The jury justified its choice by saying, "It's a very deep, personal and touching portrayal of a generation born and maturing, not only musically, in the beginnings of free Poland". Trzaski, Tymański, Możdżer and Sikała's portraits reflect the social problems of the 1990s. Their stories illustrate the struggles of a generation facing difficult choices in a young capitalist environment.
But more than anything Love is a story about music as a force that unites. In a memorable scene, meeting several years later at a rehearsal, the band members suddenly forget about their divisions and let the music lead them. They improvise, listen to each other, follow each others sounds. "That's how music happens", Dzierżawski says.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn for culture.pl, translated by MJ 05.06.2013