The brand-new Polish miniseries Feedback could be termed a thriller that addresses a subject that was last discussed in the Danish film Another Round in the year 2020. Alcoholism is a serious matter and an awful vice, and not many realize its dire consequences. This five-episode miniseries, directed by Leszek Dawid and written by Kacper Wysocki, is about one man’s journey through binge drinking, followed by his on-and-off stint with therapy. The show was released on November 15, 2023, and people watching it might need a trigger warning.
The miniseries is about a former famous rockstar, Marcin Kania, who, after his fame and glory days, ventured into real estate to financially sustain his family. The show begins with the man waking up at his estranged family’s apartment, covered in blood, and barely remembering what happened the previous night. Marcin recollects meeting his son Piotrek over dinner, who was speaking about a bunch of dangerous people and how his life might be in danger. Piotrek has been missing ever since, and Marcin is having a hard time recollecting that night. He believes his son was kidnapped by a group of people as per his faded memory, and thus begins the investigation into Piotrek’s disappearance and the company he worked for. Is Piotrek dead or alive? What would Marcin do to get to the bottom of this drama that is unfolding in front of him and his family?
The first four episodes of Feedback are all about the investigation that goes into finding out what Piotrek was into and if he antagonized any dangerous group of people at some point. The screenplay and the story of the show take time to build, even though the show is only five episodes long. The story takes time to flourish because the writer and the director have emphasized how rampant alcoholism can be a big problem not just for the person involved but also for the family and friends around them.
The showmakers made sure to go down the rabbit hole and project how dark the world is for those who are addicted to alcohol. The voiceovers of the character of Marcin add to how sinister this problem could be if not curbed. The parallel investigation done by Marcin suddenly becomes a subplot, and the writers aptly portray how alcohol ruins everything. It affects memory, causes hallucinations, aggravates anger issues, and messes with one’s perception of what is real or not. Alcoholism and slipping into severe mental health issues have a close connection, and writers make sure to take that route. The intent of the writers and the director is commendable, but all of them overindulged in this subject matter and forgot to deal with the investigation, which was supposed to be the main plot.
The makers could have given both issues an equal amount of screen time, but sadly, the narrative became repetitive after a point. The audience could comprehend how alcoholism could be severely damaging, but beating around the bush only made the storytelling mundane and predictable. Kudos to the writers who spoke in detail about how it corrupts the mental health of the family and friends who are also subjected to abuse. Trigger warning for those who were raised in such households because the execution of this subject is too real.
The screenplay lags, but it is the emotional tangent that works. It is depressing, vicious, terrorizing, and distressing. All these emotions have been evoked effectively, even though the story was lackluster with no proper structure. The flashback sequences are also not placed well, and it adds to the confusion regarding the timeline. The subplot around the reprivatization of real estate is not integrated well into the screenplay, mostly because their narrative keeps getting interjected by Marcin’s alcohol spells and the flashbacks involving Piotrek. Piotrek’s sister Ula’s narrative is also forgotten halfway through as she is introduced as the main player. She was severely affected by her father’s alcoholic and abusive nature as well. Most of the distressing stories are told from the son’s perspective and not from the perspective of the women who also faced Marcin’s wrath. The writers could have given the women some voice in the narrative.
The ending of Feedback Season 1 is splendid, as it horrifyingly digs into the past. The portion involving Marcin learning the reason behind Piotrek’s disappearance and his long battle with mental health issues is tragic and gut-wrenching. All the emotions from the entire screenplay have been injected into this penultimate scene, and it does it justice to a large extent. An end as solid as this one would make the audience forget how shaky the whole screenplay is. Such a powerful ending also questions the need to divert the plot midway through the show. It seems the makers added many subplots just to extend the length of the show. The narrative beautifully crafts the idea of not getting closure and how it could be devastating to lead a life like that.
The direction is disorderly, mostly because of the screenplay. The director has done a great job of bringing out emotions from the actors, and it is heartbreaking to watch as the climactic scenes unfold, showing the horrors of drunkenness. The editing is probably one of the weakest points of the show, and it drains the audience after a point. The highlight of Feedback is the performance of two actors who sink their teeth into the characters of Marcin and Piotrek. Arkadiusz Jakubik as Marcin Kania is the life of the show, and his performance as a drunkard who does not understand the repercussions of his habits allows the audience to see his pain and arrogance up close. The actor could have hammed it up or resorted to overacting, but his emotions remain intact, especially in the climactic scene, which is filled with shocking revelations.
The one shot of Marcin breaking down would be reminiscent of the last scene from Call Me by Your Name. There is a lot to take in emotionally from this show, and the audience will be deeply affected by it. There is no catharsis the lead goes through to make himself a better person, a narrative that is very common in stories involving addiction. The ending of the show comes close to how Requiem for a Dream dealt with addiction and its consequences with no room for redemption. Feedback is indeed a harrowing tale of alcoholism and its dire effects on people.