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Entries in Dym [2007] (1)


Dym (2007) Short Film Review

Indie and a Jones

I get several requests to review movies, but rarely do they come from the director.  Yesterday morning, I received a message from Grzegorz Cisiecki, a twenty-five-year-old filmmaker from Belarus sent me a link to his movie, Dym (which translates to “Smoke” in Polish), and asked if I’d critique it.  I’ve never reviewed a short film before, and Dym is a hell of an initiation.

The tag line reads, “The story of the person who became the captive of surrealistic madness,” and if Cisiecki came up with description, I’d say he sold himself short.  Most people, I imagine, hear the words “foreign”, “short film” and “surrealistic” and immediately think “pretentious art-house crap”.  I’m not saying Dym will change anyone’s mind: the dream images that float through one another might call to mind the trailer for a lost collaboration between David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick; but to dismiss the movie as “just plain weird” is to miss out on an intricate puzzle that must have a solution, somewhere.

The first piece of that puzzle is the fact that, in the movie, none of the characters have names; yet, the cast list on Dym’s IMDb page lists nine actors, four of which allegedly play named parts.  I mention this because that bizarre fact won’t allow me to credit the actors or even accurately refer to the people I saw on screen.  I don’t know that the movie is meant to be interpreted, but I’m going to give it a shot.

It’s about a young man who gets a job chauffeuring an obese vampire to and from a sex club for rich underworld figures.  As he enters the club to retrieve his client at the end of the night, he’s privy to all manner of off-the-wall hedonism: elitists dressed in Nehru jackets and turbans smoking hookahs; cocktail-dress-wearing lesbians making out as a bored debutante looks on; a priest and a half-naked girl wearing a Venetian mask eating grapes over a boy’s corpse.  The young man wears the disinterested face not of someone who’s seen it all before, but of a heartbroken wreck who can’t get his ex-girlfriend out of his head.  Interspersed with the freak show are flashbacks to happier times, when he and his lover lay next to each other in bed, and, um, played peek-a-boo in the park.

I’ve watched Dym three times now (it’s a quick seven minutes and nineteen seconds), and that’s the story I’m sticking with.  Oh, I forgot to mention that it’s apparently shot out of sequence, beginning with the man in his apartment playing a tape he made of the previous night’s events; this leads to a flashback of him driving his fat bloodsucking charge home and pulling over to quit in the middle of the route—before looking into his passenger’s sad, hypnotic vampire eyes and returning to work; then we go into the club flashback with the lesbians, grapes and peek-a-boo.

Regardless of what you may think of the story (which is a Rorschach test if I’ve ever seen one), Cisiecki’s talents as a filmmaker are undeniable.  His DP Dawid Rymar and composers Rashid Brocca and Aleksandr Porach really make this short film into something I wanted to see more of.  It looks and sounds like a snippet of a legitimate, long-form movie, and the fact that the director pulled all these talented people together in service of a seven-minute screenplay that would make the average moviegoer’s head explode in frustration indicates that with the right script and proper budget, he could be the heir to his heroes.  I’m definitely up for finding out where his abilities begin and end.

Before he’ll be ready to have someone answer this calling card, though, Cisiecki will have to reign in his imagination—or at least put a bit of structure to it.  Otherwise he runs the risk of not being taken seriously as an artist or a filmmaker.  People go to the movies to be entertained, not to be assaulted with beautiful-looking, incoherent imagery and yelled at for not getting the creator’s intent.  I’m not saying Dym suffers from that problem, but you might.