11 Minutes DVD Review

  • Actors: Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko
  • Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Polish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2016
  • Run Time: 83 minutes

        Approaching 11 Minutes with the goal of deciphering the intended meaning will likely to lead to frustration, as Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski has created a narrative with intentional ambiguity. Meaning is subjective, and 11 Minutes is to be approached an analyzed in the same way one might try and understand a poem. Not everything seen must be taken literally, and not all of the images will have the same meaning inferred by every viewer. It isn’t the plot points or the characters which are indiscernible, so much as the themes and the larger messages. Two people can watch this film and come to completely different conclusions on what is being said by the film’s message, even if the characters and events are themselves fairly straightforward.

        The basic premise for 11 Minutes is that we follow a series of seemingly inconsequential moments in the lives of a number of characters, all leading up to a connecting event at the end of the 11 minutes from the title. Most of these characters are not even given names, because it is less about who they are than the domino effect caused by each of their actions. At the forefront must be aspiring actress, Anna (Paulina Chapko), as one of the key figures in the climax and among the few to have a name. The problem is that she’s not a very developed character, at least not so much that I ever understood her motivations.

        Despite having just married a violently possessive man (Wojciech Mecwaldowski), Anna goes to the hotel room of a sleazy movie producer (Richard Dormer) who has obviously nefarious motives. Anna doesn’t appear to be stupid, so her motives for being in such a questionable situation are never apparent. Is she really just that gullible, or is Anna willing to do whatever it takes to feed her narcissistic desires for a career in show business? We never have the chance to find out, because it turns out that her husband spiked her champagne with a sleeping pill prior to the questionable casting session. As he rushes to the hotel to save her from an unconscious violation, far too much of the film’s run-time focuses on the producer’s obvious attempts at casting couch shenanigans.

        These aren’t the only slightly despicable characters within the narrative, which also include a cocaine-addicted courier (Dawid Ogrodnik) who is nearly caught sleeping with another man’s wife, a flirtatious hot-dog vendor (Andrzej Chyra) who was once a teacher before being arrested for sleeping with a student, and a nervous young man (Lukasz Sikora) with plans for a robbery. Some of the other characters just seem incidental until the final moments, whether it is a group of nuns eating lunch near the hotel, a trio of paramedics making an effort to help a pregnant woman and dying man, or a window-washer at the hotel and his nearby girlfriend. Then there are those that hardly seem connected at all, perhaps just existing to enforce the larger ideas of Skolimowski’s narrative. This would be far easier to analyze if I understood what these larger ideas were.

        The movie begins with a collection of personal videos, most captured on cell phone or laptop. This combined with a series of moments involving surveillance video leads me to believe that there is commentary in here about the self-centered nature of the digital age, though I have not been able to decipher how it all connects. There are strange inexplicable occurrences within the film which still have me baffled. An airplane comes forebodingly close to the buildings repeated times in the overlapping narrative, a bird inexplicably crashes into a mirror, dripping water is subtly shown defying gravity by traveling backwards up a building, and several of the characters see a spot in the sky that resembles a burned out pixel on a computer screen. 11 Minutes is the kind of film which would likely gain significance and meaning with repeat viewings, though I’m not sure the rewards would be worth enduring the cast of unredeemable characters a second time.

        The only special feature on the DVD release is a trailer for the film, which makes the film look far more exciting than it is in reality.

Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance:  5.5/10
Special Features: 1/10

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