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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The second film from the Dekalog: Krotki Film O Milosci, 19 Mar 2003
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
In the early 1990s I came across Krzytof Kieslowski's Dekalog on BBC2- ten hour long films based around the principles of the Ten Commandments. Kieslowski and co-writer Krytztof Piesiewicz advanced on their initial collaboration on 1984's No End (Bez Konca). Here they would explore the philosophy of the Ten Commandments as applied to contemporary world, each film having different cinematographers to create an original feeling. These ten films are available over two sets, and remain some of the most potent films I've ever had the pleasure to see & that I think would appeal to anyone.
Kieslowski got the chance to turn two of these short-films into features, thus Dekalog 5 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' became 'A Short Film About Killing'- redolent of Camus & Dostoyevksy & actually halting state execution for several years in Poland (films like Monster's Ball & Dead Man Walking are vacuous compared) & this film: A Short Film about Love.
Dekalog 6/A Short Film about Love was the first Kieslowski work I watched- reminiscent of Hitchcock's Rear Window & elements of Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) it is set in the same desolate housing block found in all the Dekalog films. The central character Tomek is a post office worker who lives with an elderly landlady in a housing block opposite that of Magda: an older woman who he has become obssessed with. This is a similar territory to Scorsese's Taxi Driver & the Norweigian film Junk Mail (1998). He begins to manipulate situations (lost post, taking up a position as a milkman, phoning the gas company when a lover visits her etc), while spying on her from a telescope. Finally he descends into a voyeuristic game that sees his perfect love turned into facile sexual infatuation & he attempts suicide...
This is where the film advances on Dekalog 6, Tomek forever changed following his failed bid for suicide & Magda becoming obssessed with him. The end reminds me of the scene at the end of Taxi Driver, where Travis Bickle leaves Betsy on the sidewalk, seeing her in the mirror he looks away...
A Short Film about Love is a great film, proof that you don't need a vast budget to make a timeless piece of cinema. The performances are excellent- No End's Grazyna Szapolowska is wonderful as Magda, possessing a wild sexuality with a hint of despair. Co-star Olaf Lubaszenko is equally great as Tomek- whose claustrophobic relationship with his elderly landlady reminds me of the one at the centre of Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher (2001).
A great film that would pave the way for the amazing Double Life of Veronique (1991), the timeless Three Colours Trilogy (93/94) & the posthumous script Heaven (2002)- filmed by Tom Tywker of Run Lola Run fame. Kieslowski remains one of the all time great directors, alongside those such as Hal Ashby, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Robert Bresson etc...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic!, 20 Dec 2013
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
A Short Film About Love is unquestionably a modern masterpiece - lasting only 83 minutes, it says so much about desire, innocence and experience, and looking. And above all it is very moving. The Peeping Tom theme has given rise to several brilliant films, including Rear Window, which this film particularly resembles, with the romantic obsession of Vertigo, but Kieslowski's camera is much softer, and tenderness is the key thing. There's also the interesting French film Pretend I'm Not Here, which must have been influenced by Kieslowski, and Peeping Tom itself, which also has tenderness, but the psychopathic aspect puts it in a different realm, really. Here 19-year-old Tomek is shown with a great deal of warmth, and his vulnerability is almost palpable, so that his actions don't come as that much of a surprise. One of the marvellous things about the cinema version, as opposed to the 60-minute one initially made for TV, is the ending, apparently pushed for by the lead actress Grazyna Szapolowska, which is more romantic than the original, and probably conforms more to audience wishes, without weakening it artistically. Both versions are very good, and the rapport between the two actors is almost miraculous - not just their actual rapport, but how they interlock psychologically, even rarely coming together. Olaf Lubaszenko is outstanding in the lead, his face conveying a range of emotions very directly.

Visually it is superb, broadening the range of Rear Window to convey a sense of Poland that is quite strong and makes you feel you are getting a real insight into what it felt like to live there in the late 80s. At the same time, the sense of the blocks of flats and the interior of both is very present and poetic, even if in real life it might seem more dreary. Tomek is a winning presence without any hint of film-star slickness, indeed you wonder whether a man dressed in white whom he encounters twice in the street might not potentially feel for him as he does for his neighbour (Magda); this hint is typical of Kieslowski's manner and opens out the film's scope tantalisingly. We live in a certain intimacy with him, seeing him often in his room in just a singlet which actually looks more like a camisole top with very thin straps. This almost comic element is accentuated by his landlady at one point peering at him through the same telescope he has been using to spy with, when he is in the other flat with Magda. He also goes in to her at night in a semi-confiding manner in this same singlet and a pair of compression shorts, which seems a little unlikely, but conforms to the generous, tender soul of the film. Not to be outdone, Magda also dons some revealing black satin outfits when receiving her lovers, leading one to conclude that these flats must have been well-heated, whatever other hardships there were. But to get back to the landlady, actually his friend's mother, she is almost like a guardian angel to him and adds a benevolence seen in other aunt-like figures in Kieslowski. And the climactic moment of the film, already given at the outset, is completely heartrending. There's nothing more moving, really, in cinema, Kieslowski takes us to this point with such skill and insight.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-faceted love, 17 July 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
As he did with Dekalog 5 (which was extended to A Short Film About Killing) Kieslowski extended the sixth episode of his influential Polish TV series into this intriguing study of voyeurism and repressed emotions. Featuring genuinely touching central performances, the film may not be as instantly powerful as its aforementioned companion piece, but its charm lies in its elusive nature and its story of a young man who falls in love with a woman who lives in the block of flats next to his and whose life he observes through the telescope in his room...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Kieslowski's Rear Window", 9 Feb 2010
By 
Mr. M. M. Waller "Maximus" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
This film makes me instantly nostalgic for 1980's Poland. I've never been to that country they call the "European Tiger" but such is the power of Kieslowski's film making that he captures something about his native country which reaches through the camera into our very heart and soul. When I watch his Polish based films, I feel like I'm a native, not just some tourist cineaste on vaccation for the duration of the film's running time.

Another thing that strikes me about this film after repeated viewings is the humanity of Kieslowski. He allows you to identify with Tomek in a way that is totally authentic and honest. There's no hiding the slightly creepy "Peeping Tom" aspect of his nature, no doubt born out of loneliness, but so too we recognise his basic goodness. And what is also effective is that we're spying on Tomek ourselves so we've intrinsically become voyeurs ourselves. We watch Tomek's every move as he watches Magda in her apartment and we share his pain and joy as he charts her life from the window in his room.

The music is a big part of how we understand the film's heartbeat. Preisner, a movie composer par excellence is at his very best with this beautifully modest film. His music here recalls the adagio from Mozart's Piano Concerto 23. The guitar strings that express the main theme are almost as delicate as the sound of Tomek's heart breaking when Magda humiliates him in her apartment.

"A Short Film About Love" would make a great double bill with Hitchcock's "Rear Window". Both films are lovingly made by two directors at the very pinnacle of their powers and whether we be in Hitchcock's studio rendering of Greenwich Village or Kieslowski's authentic Warsaw, both absorb us with their use of story and location. Both films are love letters to the medium of cinema and the fact that so much action takes place in stationary settings only heightens the brilliant ingenuity of both directors.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it obsession or love?, 30 Aug 2007
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
The only criticism I would have of this enthralling Polish language film by the great Polish-French director Krzysztof Kieslowski is his use of the "opened window" conceit. Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska) is a woman who lives alone in a high rise housing development. She is sexy and cynical to the point of not believing in love. To her it is all desire, and the fulfillment or frustration of desire. Across the way from her lives a virginal young man by the name of Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) who has been spying on her from his apartment window through a telescope.

He lives with a friend's mother (Stefania Iwinska) who looks after him as her own son. He works in the post office and obsesses about Magda's life. He watches her with her beaux. He even goes so far as to write a couple of phony money order slips for her and put them in her mailbox just so she will have to go to his window and ask about them. When she does he is able to examine her features closely. Is his an obsession or is it love? Kieslowski's answer is that it is love, love with the kind of depth and feeling that Magda cannot even imagine until she experiences it. And then she is amazed and dumbfounded.

The key scene in the movie occurs when Tomek is finally able to be together with the object of his love, in her apartment, with her telling him that "When a woman wants a man she gets wet inside." And she invites him to check it out, so to speak. But what happens does not lead to any kind of fulfillment. Instead Tomek is inadvertently humiliated.

And that's the story, more or less. As usual with Kieslowski, human feelings predominate and are stark and one might say conflicted--the conflict arising between humankind's baser instincts and the more civilized ones of society. What he does here is turn the stalker into the saint, in a sense, and the object of his love into something unworthy of that love.

The question might arise: is it realistic to believe that a woman would leave her windows open and her lights on for all to see inside while she goes about her private life? No, it isn't. But we have to accept this device. After that the film is fully realistic to the point of even being mundane in its depiction of middle class city life. The characters are ordinary and even a little boring except for Tomek's supreme obsession. It is this "jewel" in the heart of the Polish city that lifts his life and her life above the ordinary. Even though we know that she is too old and too world-weary for him and that he is too hopelessly young and inexperienced for her for lasting love to ever bloom between them, we cannot help but think how wonderful it would be if we could all feel as he does, or be the object of such love.

Usually when this theme is worked out it is the obsessed who suffer greatly, it is the obsessed who are to be pitied--and we do to some extent feel something close to that for Tomek. But here it is Magda who we end up pitying the more because of her inability to love. Compared to Tomek she is a deprived creature who will never find true happiness--unless she learns this lesson she has gotten from this young man whose passion for her was unlike anything she had ever experienced before.

And this is Kieslowski's point: it is not only better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. It is only through love that we can truly identify with another human being. We see this in the scene where Madga is looking through Tomek's telescope into her apartment window and recalling what he had seen one day, the day that she had come home and spilled the milk and sat at the table crying over that spilled milk (very typical of Kieslowski to use such an obvious, but telling and entirely apt cliche) after a breakup with one of her boyfriends. In memory she sees Tomek looking at her crying and running her finger through the spilled milk, and she realizes the depth of his commiseration with her and his love for her, and in her mind's eye she sees him beside her (as he truly was psychologically) with his hand on her shoulder and love in his heart.

We might think that at some other time she will look back on a relationship she had had in her life and realize that the failure was due to a lack of love on her part. Indeed she more or less reveals that to us when she tells Tomek's "Godmother" that no, she is not the right person for Tomek. We know that she is too cynical and would only use him temporarily for gratification, and that would be all.

But I was left with the sense that Magda would indeed learn from her experience and would be transformed. There is this sense of hope and the possibility of emotional and spiritual growth that is often seen in the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Language, 16 April 2014
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This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
Haven't seen it yet, but no mention of Portuguese on the DVD, which the description here says it has. I might send it back as I speak Portuguese not Polish.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 30 Sep 2013
By 
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This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
Excellent film describing the polemic life of Poland behind the Iron Curtain via an unusual relationship.
These people must have existed at some point in some grey Polish town in the '80's.
Intriguing!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 16 Oct 2012
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This review is from: A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] (DVD)
Kieslowski wrote and directed this before masterpieces like "The double life of Veronique," and "Three colours blue/white/red" trilogy.But this is the foundation upon which those critically acclaimed works was built.A shorter version of this forms one of the ten part Dekalogue DVD series, so this is about 35 minutes longer,and every minute is pure gold.
There is a starkness to this film that is missing from those that followed, but it is no less beautiful for it. This is a delicate film of incredible sensitivity, and it achieves an amazing balance of sympathies in us for both lead characters, quite a feat when they are such apparent polar opposites and also considering that the surface story is about an obsessive peeper/stalker and the seemingly shallow object/victim of his desire. If it truly becomes a short film about love, then that is thanks to it being elevated above the heights of loneliness,creepiness and lust by a brilliantly sparse and conscise script and some subtlely supreme acting and directing, and thanks above all to the humanity of Kieslowski. We feel for Tomek despite his apparent shallowness and deceits, but just when we are coming to a sympathetic understanding of him, some detail is dropped in concerning Magda's life, and we are suddenly disarmed and drawn to her, despite her own apparent shallowness and deceits.Kieslowski plays both sides with subtle skill and leaves us unable to choose which we are on, and in the end i would guess that most people are on both sides,simply because love has somehow flickered here and lit a candle in our hearts for both of these people.
Of course the reality of most scenarios concerning stalkers and their victims is nothing like what happens here,and this may actually sicken those who have been on the receiving end of real life obsessive creeps.But this film is not really about stalking, it is more about loneliness and the effects it has on normal human emotional expression, and perhaps a more accurate title would have been to swap the word "love" for "loneliness."
There is such a sweet sadness to this film,but such beauty too. How did Kieslowski manage to do it on such a low budget with such a basic story and so few characters? It is nothing short of incredible and never less than compelling. I just wish it could have gone on another half hour because it does leave so much hanging delicately in the balance.I would give it 100 stars if i could.
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A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988]
A Short Film About Love [DVD] [1988] by Krzysztof Kieslowski (DVD - 2003)
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