GFF16 Review: 11 Minutes

Veteran Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski (The Shout, Moonlighting) returns with anthology piece 11 Minutes – an ambitious project that attempts to weave several narratives together, building to one major conclusion. The gimmick here, as the title suggests, is that we recount the same eleven minutes in the life of each of these characters – some narratives more deserving of this time than others.

A director attempting to seduce a wannabe actress whilst her husband battles his paranoia; a struck off professor sells hot dogs; a delivery man battles addiction; paramedics attempt to deliver a baby and cope with a violent patient. These are just a few of the tales that make up Skolimowski’s ensemble – each intertwining in an ambitious conclusion.

The problem with anthology tales like Skolimowski’s is the ultimately patchy quality that we’re left with. Some segments are original, fast-paced and directed with an impressive intricacy. Others lack barely enough depth or intrigue to sustain the eleven minutes time they receive. The ‘casting couch’ segment thrills as we see Richard Dormer’s filmmaker attempt to seduce a young actress going from bad to worse, whilst there is is a real ambition in the addicted delivery boy scene – particular as he experiences a bad trip – however these moments of inspiration are consistently bookended with less interesting segments: a girl walking her dog, a man selling hot dogs or a window cleaner preparing to work – none of which particularly engage. These less effective scenes have a clear purpose in the final stages of 11 Minutes, but it nonetheless begs the question “surely there was a more interesting route that could have taken us to the same ending?”

There are some flashes of visual might in cinematographer Mikolaj Lebkowski's work (e.g. the 'trip' scene), paired with a crashing sound design that keep proceedings somewhat lively,  however, for the most part this is a tale built around digitally shot urban interiors like swanky hotels or darkened apartment rooms – it is not the most visually stimulating piece.

There is plenty of hinted yet largely untouched themes that make 11 Minutes all the more frustrating. Allusions to the ‘Big Brother state’ through neat cuts to a CCTV room implying that although often in private quarters, the characters are always being watched - but this is little more than a footnote. Similarly suggestions of occult or alien presence are raised in the form of a mysterious black dot that certain individuals see in the sky – but once again, this is not investigated with much depth.

There are flashes of greatness in several of 11 Minutes’ tense segments and its conclusion is somewhat worth the patchy quality endure in getting there.

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski 
Originally Featured: The People's Movies

Richard Dormer 3832087356019856030
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