Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) is a young, nineteen year old postal worker who becomes obsessed with Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska), the promiscuous older woman (she's probably in her mid thirties or so) who lives in the apartment building that lays opposite his window. During the day she works as an artist, but at night, she seems to have no shortage of male visitors.
As his obsession grows, he begins to watch her through his telescope. He tries to get her attention by playing tricks on her and making crank calls to her phone. Eventually he feels the need to tell her that he is falling in love with her. She quickly brings him into her world, though all she really wants from him is physical love, not emotional. Tomek, his heart broken, unsuccessfully tries to take his own life and he is hospitalized for his troubles. When he's finally discharged, he returns home only to find that the tables have turned and that Magda has since become obsessed with him.
A Short Film About Love was initially created as an episode of Kieslowski's Decalog, a series of ten films made for broadcast on Polish television. It was then fleshed out more to be a feature in its own right, and that's the version we have here on Kino's DVD.
Aside from the fact that Tomak wouldn't be able to see Magda because of the lighting behind the glass in once scene, A Short Film About Love is a realistic and moving piece of work that takes an interesting look at a subject that's been examined time and time again by filmmakers, novelists and artists since the beginning of time.
Excellent, albeit mellow, performances from the two leads make the characters believable despite some of the more unusual aspects of the narrative which is a testament to how good a job Lubaszenko and Szapolowska do in their respective roles. Complimented by the subtle yet interesting photography, the film emerges as a uniquely emotional experience with some interesting twists.
Kino has done a great job on their 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. While the colors are a tad soft in a couple of scenes, for the most part they look quite nice and print damage is surprisingly minimal. There is a fine coat of grain evident here and there but that's to be expected. Fleshtones look good, black levels are nicely balanced without breaking up like they sometimes tend to do, and edge enhancement isn't much of an issue at all.
A Short Film About Love is presented in its original Polish mono mix with removable and typo free English subtitles. Overall, this is a rather quiet film so the mono mix is perfectly sufficient for what it needs to accomplish. Dialogue is clean and clear without any noticeable hiss or distortion present.
Kino, much to their credit, has dug up some pretty interesting supplements for this release. First up is an Interview With Actress Grazyna Szapolowska in which she discusses her work on the film as well as her working relationship with Kieslowski. This is an interesting piece as she seems to be quite honest in her discussion and this is worth checking out if you enjoyed the film. There's also an Interview With Kieslowski Collaborator Annette Insdorf, who has written a book on the director and done most of the Polish to English translations for his movies. She seems to know her subject quite well and offers some interesting insight into the film and the filmmaker. The third and final interview is an Interview With Emmanuel Finkiel who served as second unit director on Kieslowski's Trois Couleurs Trilogy. Though he had nothing to do at all with this film, he does lend some thoughts to Kieslowski's directing process that, in context, fit with the mood of the film on this release.
Aside from the interviews, Kino has also supplied Tramway, Kieslowski's 1966 short film debut. Clocking in at just over five minutes, it's a keen little film about a man who catches the last train home from work and meets a girl onboard. Quality isn't perfect but it's quite good aside from what is basically just some minor print damage. Having never seen this before, I was pleased with its inclusion on this DVD.
Rounding out the supplements are an original theatrical trailer, a Kieslowski filmography, and a Kieslowski Trailer Gallery.
A Short Film About Love is an amazingly real feeling piece of work. It's easy to care about the characters and everything that happens in the film is completely plausible (save for the technical goof involving the lighting of the window). Kino has done a great job bringing this film to DVD with solid audio and video and a nice selection of extra features.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.