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SYN Nation

Review: 11 Minutes – MIFF

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Jerzy Skolimowski’s career is defined by a healthy disregard for conventional filmmaking. He has always been a punk of the highest order. And it’s with total delight that I report that this pedigree is on full display in 11 Minutes.

From the beginning, we know we are in the hands of an unhinged master. The menacing pre-titles scrapbook of low-res footage from laptop, phone and security cameras clearly signals his anarchic intent. And it also signals the genre we are being propelled into: the multi-character storyline.

Essentially, the film is just that: a glimpse into the lives of several characters over the eleven minutes of the film’s title past 5 o’clock, some of which intersect over the course of the narrative and all of which intersect at the end. The short time span means we never get a full impression of who these characters are, but we accept that we were never really meant to. Plus there’s more than enough in there to give a rough sense of who they are, and it’s surprising how much can actually happen in eleven minutes.

Crammed with pounding music and brazen, in-your-face camerawork, the freewheeling style of this film has annoyed and frustrated many of my fellow cinemagoers, to say the least. And it’s not hard to see why; Skolimowski almost tries deliberately to throw us off at every step, like a bucking bronco with an ongoing glitch. But it’s worth persevering and holding on. Because the reward you get is the utter juggernaut of an ending that’s been lying in wait the whole time.

The ending, like every one of Skolimowski’s endings that I’ve seen so far, is a shocking slap to the face. It’s the culmination of all of the events that take place in the film, the swirling final movement of the strangely melodic cacophony. For the whole film we have been riding on rollercoasters whose screws have been steadily rattling, until they bring us crashing off the rails right at the end of the track. And then the final breathtaking zoom out, telling us that this was only eleven minutes in the lives of only a handful of characters: look at how much else could be and has been going on.

Cue open eyes, open mouths and stopping heart. Holy crap.

Proof that you don’t have to get soft when you get old, 11 Minutes is another notch firmly whammed into the belt of a continually unrepentant filmmaker. Just wow.

Written by Ben Volchok

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August 25th 2016
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