11 Minutes ( **)
Running Time: 81 minutes
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Cast: Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko.,Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Andrzej Chyra, Dawid Ogrodnik and Agata Buzek
“It’s a human story, it could happen any place in the world”
It’s 5pm in Warsaw, and disaster lurks just out of sight, a coiled spring ready to explode. An old man sits by a bridge; working on his watercolour version of the cityscape, when the brush drips and a dark splodge stains the corner. In hotel rooms, people’s vision is drawn towards something odd in the sky, and they whisper theories about what it might be. A bird crashes through an open bedroom window, smashing a mirror like a cannonball. There is, Jerzy Skolimowski’s 11 Minutes continually insists, something terrible coming. And when it finally arrives… boy is it a let-down.
Shot partly in Dublin, with production and funding assistance from the capitol’s Element Pictures and the Irish Film Board, 11 Minutes has some local traction. And there is, amongst the Polish-speaking cast, one familiar face; Richard Dormer as a slimy movie executive, over-doing the sleaze just a little.
In his plush hotel suite, the phones are unplugged, the champers is out he’s pretty much licking his lips at the beautiful actress auditioning for him (Paulina Chapko). Outside his door, her husband is sweating and flailing and trying to avoid the gaze of security; he has slipped her sleeping pills to help her rest, and they’re about to kick in.
These three are joined by an extended roster of random citizens caught up in lightly criss-crossing drama within the titular timeframe (a credibility-stretching conceit, given how much happens). There’s a courier delivering a suspicious package; a hotel dog vendor confronted by a former pupil; an ambulance crew trying to fight their way to a pregnant woman. The film spreads its 80 minutes thin over its collection of stories, setting them up like dominoes but forgetting to make the individual narratives interesting.
Along the way there are some effectively tense sequences, thanks to Mikołaj Łebkowski’s camera work, Pawel Mykietyn’s sound design and Agnieszka Glinska’s editing. Wojciech Mecwaldowski is convincing as the jealous husband, sunken eyes and nervous energy, shut in hotel corridors, his mounting panic marked with fuzzy drone distortion and the engine noise of low-flying aircraft.
But just when the movie needs to go up a notch, it settles back down, returning to meandering foreboding, coasting on hints of some unsettling connection between strangers. Threads are introduced and unexplored; another clickable piece for the cheap Mousetrap finale. This movie is all tease.