Starring: Grazyna Szapolowska, Olaf Lubaszenko, Stefania Iwinska
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Running Time: 86 mins
A Short Film About Love (Krótki film o milosci) is a Polish film about a 19 year old man who innocently spends his time spying on an older woman living in the apartment opposite him. Over time, he falls in love with her, and so sets about interfering in her life in the hope of finally meeting her.
As creepy, eerie and unsettling the entirety of this film is, I have to say that I was blown away by A Short Film About Love. It’s one of the most atmospheric films I’ve ever seen, complete with two stunning central performances and an incredibly unpredictable story that make it completely enthralling to watch at every second.
I’ll start with director Krzysztof Kieslowski, whose work here is definitely the most important reason that this is such a good watch. First and foremost, he goes about establishing a hugely unnerving and eerie atmosphere right from the word go, through the use of dark lighting, handheld camera, slow pacing and a startlingly noticeable lack of music, and that was so integral to making such a quiet and slow film absolutely thrilling to experience.
Kieslowski’s other stroke of genius comes in the way our main characters are written. Kieslowski wrote the screenplay along with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, and what’s so striking and unique about it is the way it it toys with your emotions so strongly, and fools you into sympathising with certain characters when you would normally feel morally repulsed by them.
Tomek, the 19 year old, is effectively a stalker for the majority of this film, and although his motives may be innocent, just wanting to look at the older woman because he loves her, he should be portrayed as a very dark villain. However, the film never shows him in a menacing light, and instead makes you sympathise heavily with him throughout, and no matter how weird or wrong I thought he was, I just couldn’t help myself from actually supporting and caring about him, which was a bizarre but hugely impressive feature of the film.
The two central performances are the other most striking and effective part of this film. On the one hand, Olaf Lubaszenko plays Tomek fantastically, and pulls off the notion that his interest in Magda, the older woman, is purely innocent, which was vital to making his character so genuinely supportable. Meanwhile, Grazyna Szapolowska, who plays Magda, does an incredible job, by playing brilliantly well alongside Lubaszenko, as well as giving a very clear performance demonstrating her character’s brutalist perspectives on love.
And that’s the final element that makes this film such a stand-out for me. It’s probably the most intriguing spin on the ‘what is love’ question I’ve ever seen, because it not only looks at it from two perspectives (romantic, idealist love and brutal, physical love), but by subverting your expectations and playing those perspectives from opposing genders, it’s impossible to feel bias when you’re trying to figure out the answer along with this film, adding a fascinating main theme to follow throughout as the thrilling story unfolded.
Overall, I was stunned by A Short Film About Love. It may be slow and short on dialogue, but Krzysztof Kieslowski does an incredible job to make it an absolutely enthralling and powerfully unsettling watch. The performances are amazing, the writing and directing is astounding, and it has an incredibly intriguing main theme about love throughout, so that’s why I’m giving A Short Film About Love a 9.6 overall.