The Polish Crash? 11 Minutes

11 Minutes - Jerzy Skolimowski11 Minutes
Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski
Opens April 8 at IFC Center

Time is of the utmost importance. In 11 Minutes, Jerzy Skolimowski’s first film in five years, and his first set in Poland since Four Nights with Anna (2008), time expands and arcs. Where his spare, abstract survival film Essential Killing (2010) focused on one character, 11 Minutes persistently switches attention among a network of people one afternoon in Warsaw. In the span of the proverbial eleven minutes, these random individuals’ lives intersect.

This sounds corny; this sounds like the hokum of Paul Haggis’s Crash. This sounds like a network narrative. And it is! 11 Minutes is a winking, nudging, puckish one, pitched as a suspenseful Hitchcockian version of Michael Haneke’s 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance. A worried husband, sporting a bruised eye from a prior skirmish, high-tails it to a posh hotel where he (rightly) fears that a sleazy Hollywood director is using an interview to get his grubby paws on his actress wife. In another room, a window washer takes a break to have sex with his wife. Elsewhere in the city, a disgraced professor, fresh out of jail and now a hot dog vendor, sells wieners to a pack of nuns; a courier transports cocaine on his sport motorcycle, giving into temptation at times to taste the merchandise; and, mostly from the POV of the canine, a young woman and her dog lounge about in a park. These sets of people and more mix and mingle in this clipped, lean movie, but converge in the final moments. Alas, time is not on their side.

The resonance, the gravity of the characters and their individual narratives is of little concern for Skolimowski. The network narrative is merely a container in which to place the issues he’s dealing with, namely surveillance culture and the proliferation of screens with the proliferation of technology (dig that pre-title sequence in which the movie takes on the perspective of iPhone, Skype, and CCTV screens), and the sick slick sheen of Poland in a global capitalist economy.

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