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19-year-old Tomek whiles away his lonely life by spying on his opposite neighbour Magda through binoculars. She's an artist in her mid-thirties, and appears to have everything - not least a constant stream of men at her beck and call. But when the two finally meet, they discover that they have a lot more in common than appeared at first sight... Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the most sensitive and powerful depictions of love ever committed to film.
Unlike the other masterpiece in his Decalogue, Killing, in 'A Short Film About Love' Kieslowski treats the subject of love with an extraordinarily delicate, rather than a polemic, eye. As ever he manages to express more with subtlety than most directors ever will with expression: it is rather what is not said, what is not expressed, that leaves an indelible mark upon us.
Olaf Lubaszenko's central performance as the boy is, rather than 'opaque' as it has been termed, engrossing from the start. His innocence and fragility, just like the film's, are an invitation to the intimacy we progressively acquire. We, the film's audience, watch engrossed and exposed just as does he, and, in another sense, does the subject of his observations. His telescope becomes a direct motif; distance, separation, enlargement: all the things the filmmaker provides for the viewer. Thus, at emotional, intellectual and metacinematic levels the film explores its themes: observation and love.
While it may not come to solid conclusions (nor ought it to), the sensitivity with which the director watches his actors is utterly compelling. The resultant negotiation between man and women, subject and observer, viewer and filmmaker is a relationship, a love affair. Perhaps Barthes might have sought to go further, waiting for the end of the film, its 'death', to find psychological and sexual consummation to such an affair, and the film may support such a reading. Even a far less academic approach is sufficient, however, in order to enjoy the work at it appears at face value. We do not need to analyse in order to feel, and it is the film's emotional impact that remains when our brief voyeurism, our visit to the cinema, ends.
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