GFF16 Review: 11 Minutes

Veteran Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski (The Shout,
) 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

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