Plynace Wiezowce (Floating Skyscrapers)
Dir: Tomasz Wasilewski
Cert: 15 • Poland: 93 min • Matchbox Films / Alter Ego Pictures • March 24, 2014
Andrew Darley reviews
Dubbed the “first LGBT Polish film”, the subject of Tomasz Wasilewski’s Floating Skyscrapers is sexual identity in a predominately conservative central Europe. The film focuses on Kuba, a determined athlete who is forced to confront the feelings he has been, literally, running away from. We are introduced to Kuba and the domesticity of his relationship with long-term girlfriend, Sylwie, and his highly disciplined, training regime. However, something does not feel right. He is hostile and unengaged by life and the others around him. It’s not until we witness him attend a party that we see a pulse. When he meets Mikal, an instant bond is made between the two men, as Sylwie looks on. From this moment, the two start meeting regularly defying both the practical and their own personal boundaries of falling in love with each other. There’s something magnetic between them that negates everything else around.
The events that unfold feature the secretive life they must maintain to see each other. Kuba allows the resistance he holds against his sexuality to give way to his initial hedonistic pleasure in the illicit relationship. His underlying self-loathing must play out before he can eventually hold up his hands and allow himself to love Mikal despite the odds. It’s very much a film about the unspoken. The script is suggestive and prefers to leave the emotional worlds of the characters to the audiences’ interpretation. The sparse dialogue and tense scenes reveal the unacceptability of his sexuality and the disorder it has made of his world.
Tomasz Wasilewski understands that film can be an experience that engages all the senses. His cinematographic aesthetic of clean lines and sobering, often desaturated, grading presents the atmosphere of the characters’ rigid and orderly environment. One scene in particular hits home where the camera is inside the car in which Kuba and Mikal drive to the top of a multistorey carpark. The elongated scene is repetitive and measured, yet, as they climb from one floor to the next there is a sense of freedom as they find a place to enjoy each other’s company alone.
The director also utilizes sound in a way that brings to life Poland’s cultural atmosphere. The electronic music throughout reflects the austere and detached sentiment that pervades the film. The programmed beats and synthesizers are used in a way that soundtracks the inner lives of the characters. Depeche Mode’s ‘I Feel You’ punctuates a heightened scene that marks a turning point in the film in which all involved can no longer continue to ignore the reality of the new relationship. Still, it’s not only the music that stays with you. The sounds contained in the film are at once familiar and uneasy to listen to. In Kuba’s home the clink of cutlery, the buzzing traffic outside and shouting from the streets are all noises which are routinely true to everyday life. The domestic commotions are pitched as loud as the dialogue, echoing the noise and buzzing thoughts going on in Kuba’s mind. A signature of the film is the shots of Kuba swimming underwater. The aquatic drones as we watch him swim are almost otherworldly demonstrating the level of escape he reaches through training and routine. The outside world is drowned out and Wasilewski allows us to be there with him.
Floating Skyscrapers taps into the culture of homophobia, which demands many to suppress, numb, or even kill their own desires, in order to bend to societal convention. It expresses that, although terrifying, when we follow our own desires we permit ourselves the space and potential to be happy. It’s only when we reject or ignore them that they start to become destructive.
The silence this film leaves is deafening.