A Short Film About Love (1988)

“Kieślowski’s deceptively simple film (with unfussy cinematography by Witold Adamek and a straightforward yet stirring piano-dominated score by Zbigniew Preisner) might have been inspired by the most straightjacket-like of God’s interactions with humankind, but it speaks with the tranquility of a parable.”

‘A Short Film About Love’, directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski in 1988, is an expansion of an hour long episode of the directors television series ‘Decalogue’. It tells the story of Tomek, a teenager who becomes obsessed with an older woman, Magda, who he watches through his telescope as she goes about her domestic chores. His obsession draws him ever closer to her as he begins to manipulate aspects of her life and creates opportunities for them to meet. When his secret is finally revealed, the resulting complex relationship results in a breakdown for him and a reversal of roles for her. It is a brilliant exploration of voyeurism, teenage and adult obsessions and, at times, different forms of loneliness. Tomek’s solitude is alleviated by his spying but ironically exacerbated when he meets Magda, whilst her loneliness is something she doesn’t recognise until she takes Tomek’s place at the end of the film and imagines life with him. It’s not a creepy movie, Kieślowski could have gone down the route of Hitchcock with his ‘Rear Window’/’Psycho’ plot, but instead his construction of the characters of both Tomek and Magda is touching and allows the audience to fully empathise with them. This is also partly due to the success of the two leading actors, particularly Olaf Lubaszenko as Tomek, who underplays the role even as his depression overwhelms him.

Would I recommend it? Yes – I’m yet to watch Kieślowski’s second adaptation from his ‘Decalogue’, ‘A Short Film About Killing’, but I’m guessing this would be an excellent and obvious double-bill. Otherwise, how about ‘Rear Window’?

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