Essential cinema

“Essential Killing”, script: Ewa Piaskowska, Jerzy Skolimowski,
DP - Adam Sikora, directed by Skolimowski

Upon disappointments with “The Social Network”, “Inception” or the latest “Harry Potter” I rejoiced with “Essential killing”, almost danced upon seeing it. Cinema is not over! New paths are possible.

The other films felt tired, used up, artificially jazzed up, whereas the Skolimowski’s latest brings in zest, energy and aliveness. It displays humbleness about the events being told. The storyteller of this film does not present himself as smarter than the story. He follows it with respect, with his eyes wide open and ears ready to receive signals that are not predetermined by narrative cliches. In "Essential Killing" there are questions rather than answers. There is openness rather than arrogance. Empathy rather than pushiness. The film does not feel calculated and displays naturalness, mystery and poetry. At the same time there are moments which rise eyebrows in the plausibility department. If that’s the price for the overall energy, so be it.

Reality in Skolimowski's hands gets more penetrating treatment than in those other extravaganzas. I do not think it is only because “Essential killing” is not a Hollywood film and as such can afford to be a more genuine representation of what life feels like. (After all there are Hollywood directors who do not talk down to audiences.)

Conclusion: If a plot is unclear, muddy and or spotty (that’s the case with the four mentioned titles) it may be better to pay less attention to justification of such undercooked structures and instead focus on life and emotions contained within them. Creating scenes that (supposedly) explain psychological or plot intricacies usually reduces sequences to mechanical statements dutifully strung together. Skolimowski does not care much for that - instead he focuses on life which floats in front of the lenses. Thanks to that his screen pulsates with vitality so rare in today’s fiction cinema.

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