Joanna “Jo” Lisiecka is not just a loving mother, a caring daughter, or a dedicated wife, but a super-woman who balances between these different roles and looks after her entire joint family. She cooks food for them, brings groceries from the store, and lifts their spirits in times of need. Jo is an English teacher too, who supports her students the same way she supports her family. In short, Jo is there for everybody, but the important question is, who is there for Jo? The title of the film, “My Wonderful Life,” is ironic in itself, because Jo’s life is not wonderful at all. She is struggling and slowly draining out while trying to maintain a secret life to have chunks of happiness amidst all the chaos.
But director Lukasz Grzegorzek brings the real conflict in Jo’s life when an unknown caller blackmails Jo, to expose her secret affair to her family or maybe to the entire city. The narrative puts Jo in a situation from which she cannot run away any further and is forced to face the truth. What will become of Jo in the end? Will she be able to run away from all the relationships that are weighing her down? Will Jo finally submit to the threats and reveal her true self to the world? And most importantly, will Jo be able to be happy again?
Joanna “Jo” Lisiecka (Agata Buzek) lives in a small house in Nysa with her husband, Witek, and their two sons, Adam (the elder one) and Janek (the younger one), Adam’s wife Karina, Adam’s newborn Leon, and Jo’s mother, who is an Alzheimer’s patient. Jo and Witek work in the same school where Witek is headmaster and Jo is an English teacher. Their son, Adam, is 23 years old and doesn’t do anything important except look after his newborn, at which he fails miserably, while Janek is a high school student who studies in Jo’s class.
Jo pretends to be happy with her married life, but she is not. She keeps her mother’s house for herself, which acts as an escape from all her responsibilities of being a mother, daughter, or wife. In this apartment, Jo not only conducts private tuition but also entertains an affair with a fellow science teacher, Maciek. This little secret affair with Maciek is the only life thing in her life that makes her feel liberated. But suddenly, her happiness is threatened too.
During an English class, Jo receives a text message from an unknown sender who blackmails her into exposing her secrets to the world. Initially, she believes that maybe one of her students is playing a prank on her, but suddenly the intensity of the threats increases, which makes Jo believe that someone is really after her. Hence, while struggling to manage her family life, Jo conducts an investigation of her own and involves her son, Adam, while also revealing to him her extramarital affair. Neither Adam nor Jo are able to find out the identity of the blackmailer, but that’s not what the film majorly focuses on. The threats arise only to make Jo realize that she is not happy in her married life and that she really needs to take action against it or someone else will. But who?
‘My Wonderful Life’ Ending Explained
Jo finally understood the gravity of the threats when she found an envelope in her car that was filled with intimate pictures that were clicked by Maciek during the passionate romance in Jo’s mother’s apartment. These pictures and videos were recorded from Jo’s cell phone, and probably someone hacked into it. For a moment, Jo believed that Maciek might have stolen them to expose her, but her doubts were cleared when Maciek expressed his true feelings to Jo and told her that he loved her from the bottom of his heart and would never do anything to hurt her.
The second suspect was Maciek’s daughter, Zabnicka “Monkey,” who was a mephedrone addict and probably hated Jo because maybe she knew about Jo’s affair with her father. With the help of Adam, Jo got Monkey’s fingerprints and got them tested with the fingerprints on the envelope, but they didn’t match. While Jo served fruit punch to her students during the private tuition to get Monkey’s finger, her own son, Janek, didn’t even touch the glass, and there was a reason why.
It was Janek, who hacked his mother’s cell phone or stole clips from it to blackmail her for her own good. His involvement was hinted at, by an absurd montage at the end of “My Wonderful Life,” in which Janek held a similar-looking envelope that the blackmailer had sent to Jo. However, the question here is, why did Janek blackmail his own mother and expose her secret affair to the family?
Janek knew that her mother was not happy in her marriage and that their relationship had met a dead end. It was a total wreck, but still, Jo was carrying the weight of it because of her family. Jo kept her mother’s apartment and carried out her secret affair in it, which is why she didn’t give the apartment to Adam and his wife, who eagerly wanted to move into it. Janek, as a third person, could see his mother struggling to juggle between her real and hidden life. She wanted to help her finally face reality and stop running away from it.
In the last threat, the blackmailer blackmailed Jo to show her intimate video to her family or else he would expose it to the entire city. It was evident from the warning that the blackmailer, or Janek, wanted Jo to reveal the truth to Witek and finally break off all the ties that had been holding her back from living a happy life of her own.
Symbolically, Jo had become a hard rock, which was neither moving nor had any feelings left. She had become dry both emotionally and physically and had developed latent tetany, a calcium deficiency. If Jo had kept living a loveless life like that, then she probably would have died or developed a chronic illness in her life and thus urgently needed help. But as Janek commented, Jo was self-righteous and stubborn and wouldn’t have dared to take the grave step until and unless pushed by an external force or threat.
After Jo’s secret life and her affair with Maciek were exposed to her family, Jo courageously accepted it instead of feeling sorry for her actions. And soon after, Jo left the house and started living in her mother’s apartment, and she resigned from the school to probably start a new life somewhere else. Witek also had CCTV footage of Jo in which she broke into the school during her pursuit to catch the blackmailer, and all the teachers knew about her addiction to pot, which could be the reason too for Jo to resign.
Though Jo made all these brave decisions by the end of “My Wonderful Life,” the past knocked on her door again, and her family arrived at her mother’s apartment, probably to comfort Jo or maybe to bid a final goodbye. Even Janek planted doubts in her mother’s mind about her ability to “un-resign.” Hence, the end begs the question, Will Jo move back to her tormented life in her joint family or finally take a flight? Though her final decision was not brought to light, the closing shot symbolically gave Jo two choices in the form of two men standing in front of her: Witek and Maciek.
The way Jo smiled at Maciek suggests that she would choose him because she felt burning desire, passion, and love in their relationship, which was apparently missing with Witek. Her intimate life with Witek had died a long time ago, and Witek didn’t adore Jo as much as Maciek did. Maybe she won’t choose both of them and will lead a single life on her own terms until she feels the need to have a partner again. Director Lukasz Grzegorzek leaves us with an open ending to fill the gaps in Jo’s life and weave a conclusion that they wish to see in their own lives. Liberation or Obligation, the end depends on the audience’s perception.
“My Wonderful Life” is a 2022 Romance Thriller film written and directed by Lukasz Grzegorzek.