11 MINUTES (Poland|Ireland/15A/81mins)
Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. Starring Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko, Wojciech Mecwaldowsk, Andrzej Chyra, Dawid Ogrodnik
THE PLOT: In an unnamed Polish city, several people encounter each other over the space of 11 minutes, changing each of their lives forever.
THE VERDICT: Director Jerzy Skolimowski takes a leaf out of the best episodic ensemble films – including ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Magnoli’a – to try and tell the story of how some events are inevitable, and the moments leading up to tragedy. The trouble is that there are very few reasons to care for this cast of characters, since we never truly get to know any of them.
The cast is led by our own Richard Dormer as a sleazy Hollywood filmmaker, and he is joined on screen by Paulina Chapko, Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Andrzej Chyra, Dawid Ogrodnik, Agata Buzek, Piotr Glowacki and Jan Nowicki. It is nigh on impossible to tell whether the cast are giving good performances, bad ones or something in between as the script they are given to work with seems to be a jumbled mess.
Written for the screen and directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, ’11 Minute’s is disjointed, fragmented and a genuine mess. The audience is never given a chance to get to know the characters that flit on and off screen, other than the things that they would tell people they are meeting for the first time; one is a film director, one got married yesterday, one is an artist… And so on. The screenplay is completely underdeveloped, so when disaster strikes it does not, and cannot, elicit any sort of emotional response from the audience since they are never given a reason to care. There is the germ of a good idea in 11 Minutes, but it is lost in incidentals.
In all, ’11 Minutes’ is quite simply, a mess. The audience is never given a chance to root for the characters or get to know them, so this ambitious project about the moments before disaster is emotionless and unengaging.
Review by Brogen Hayes

11 Minutes
Review by Brogen Hayes
  • filmbuff2011

    Working erratically in film over the years, veteran Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s first film since 2010’s Essential Killing is 11 Minutes, an ambitious but somewhat flawed attempt at a multi-strand narrative. Set in Warsaw, where planes fly dangerously low past skyscrapers, it focuses on several different plots. The one that sticks out the most is most likely to be the one in English: that of sleazy director Richard (Richard Dormer), who calls newlywed actress Anna (Paulina Chapko) to his hotel room for a meeting about his upcoming project, Whore’s Profession. Thus begins a series of mind games, as he tries to seduce her. Meanwhile, her frantic husband (Wojciech Mecwaldowski) runs around suspecting what’s going on. On the streets below, a hot-dog seller (Andrzej Chyra) has a secret connected to a young courier (Dawid Ogrodnik). Finally, a group of paramedics try to rescue a trapped patient… Released here presumably because of the Irish connection (like Essential Killing, this film is co-produced by Dublin-based outfit Element Pictures), 11 Minutes has some good ideas going for it. The multi-strand narrative has been done many times before, so Skolimowski has to try something different to make his film stand out. He only really achieves that in (possibly) the last 11 minutes, in a barn-storming, technically-impressive sequence that draws together all the plot strands and is as good as anything that Hollywood can produce (think Die Hard and The Matrix). It’s a shame then that the rest of the film isn’t as interesting or as imaginative. 82 minutes is pretty slim for a film which isn’t as smart as it thinks it is. If a multi-strand story is to work, like in the excellent Magnolia, then you need time to engage with the characters and have some emotional investment. There’s not much of that here – most of the characters are sketchy at best and don’t stand out in the same way as Essential Killing or even Skolimowski’s earlier films like The Shout. Still, that ending is worth the price of admission alone. Otherwise, it’s mostly dull, forgettable stuff. **