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A Short Film About Love [DVD] 
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Krysztof Kieslowskis A Short Film About Love was expanded from one of the most lyrical episodes in Dekalog, his celebrated cycle of short films based on the Ten Commandments. A young man falls in love with an older woman who lives across the courtyard in the same Warsaw apartment block. He watches her and her succession of lovers until she becomes aware of his spying and confronts him with a sexual invitation. Featuring a superb score by Zbigniew Preisner, Kieslowskis interpretation of Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery affectingly explores the themes of love and voyeurism. Along with its companion piece, A Short Film About Killing, the film was released theatrically to critical acclaim.
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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.
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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