A Short Film About Killing could do with being much shorter. A long character study dealing with, you guessed it, the act of killing. From the spur of the moment murder to a meticulously planned execution, we explore what it means to take another person’s life.
I find it difficult to really explain what the film is about. It has a beginning, a middle and an end but with a lot of guff in between. The really interesting moments are reserved for the end, meaning we have to sit through a ridiculously long, slow start to get to anything good. Yes, it’s important to establish the characters and all of the intricacies of their lives but if I was allowed to fast forward I would have. Act one barely feels like it’s moving – it includes small nuggets of intrigue and excitement before being replaced with the mundane. I did however find some qualities I liked, the main one being the Cinematography, (which probably kept me awake for the whole opening).
Slawomir Idziak created a slightly surreal and odd look to the film using a number of coloured filters. The world is transformed from a bland, grey city to a ‘Hell’ with yellow skies which move and change with the characters. There is a slight halo around all of our leads, making them stand out from the surroundings and informing us about who is important.
The continuous use of silhouettes are stunning and help to build the tension and slight mystery to the story. The shots are held longer than what would feel comfortable, creating a very strong reaction from the audience. With the lack of music and some pretty brutal images the film almost feels like a horror. In a way I suppose it is, just not horror as we know it. In saying that, some scenes are so poorly done it becomes comedic. There are sub-genre films and then there’s this, where they clearly didn’t have an idea of what they were going for when they wrote the script.
The plot does have its good moments but they are sparse throughout. The tension is well created and it feeds us hints of what is to come – our curiosity is piqued but the film ultimately fails to deliver a decent resolution. Technically this film is great – the editing, camera work and score are a great calling card for the filmmakers’ talent but not so much for their storytelling abilities.
There are some interesting key ideas here and there but the film doesn’t really utilise them and, actually, skips a lot of the more interesting parts – it barley has a point and takes far too long to get to it. Being part of the Martin Scorsese section should make it worth the watch and obviously I am no expert on Polish Cinema but A Short Film about Killing does not have an awful lot to say.