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Poland 1988
Directed by
Krzysztof Kieslowski
87 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Short Film About Love, A

Krzysztof Kieślowski's A Short Film About Love, co-written by the director with his regular collaborator Krzysztof Piesiewicz, was the second of his 1988 Polish ten-part TV series,The Decalogue, to be transformed into a feature film (the other being A Short Film About Killing).

Although they are skilfully made I’ve never found Kieślowski's films particularly satisfying, they appearing to me more as impressively well-crafted exercises in the tropes of European art cinema than anything of genuine substance or performative interest. Kieślowski nevertheless was hugely popular in certain circles during the 1980s and this film in particular was critically much admired

The story is about nineteen-year old Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) who through his telescope watches a beautiful, older woman, Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska) who lives in an apartment opposite his. Tomek tries to requite his love and his fumbled efforts so moves Magda that she cannot help but respond to his love. If there are audiences that can accept that premise as anything more than a juvenile fantasy then good luck to them but for me whatever the director has to say about love and sexual desire is undermined by the facile romanticism of the narrative.

The original television version ends with Tomek telling Magda that he doesn't watch her anymore whereas the film version, apparently at the suggestion of Szapolowska,ends with Magda in Tomek's apartment after he returns home from hospital. She looks through his telescope into her own apartment and Kieślowski replays an earlier scene of Magda crying in her kitchen, only this time she is joined and comforted by Tomek. If only love was that fair in real life!




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