There really isn’t anything earth-shattering going on here, but I wasn’t really anticipating that much. What this is is a nice introduction into Skolimowski’s world, which I plan on exploring for the next several weeks. It’s elliptical, it looks very nice, and the character involved all seem likable enough. Effective might be a good word to describe the movie, though that kind of implies that it has no emotional impact at all, and that’s not really true. The movie manages to capture a fleeting sense of hopelessness, that is ultimately dashed once the film abruptly ends. To Skolimowski’s credit, his next film is something of a follow-up to this one. Perhaps making a cohesive, singular statement within the running time of 70 minutes was never his intention.
The film’s English title, Identification Marks: None comes from a dialogue that occurs fairly early in the movies. The film’s protagonist, Andrzej Leszczyc (played by the filmmaker himself) is under going a physical examination via the conscription board. He now longer goes to school and he longer provides financial support for his wife. In other words, he is useless and perfect material to become a marine. His inability to make sort of contribution to society is encapsulated by the way he wanders around town without any intentions of ever picking himself, and/or turning things around. He has accepted his destiny as becoming a property of the government.
Andrzej seems less concerned with alleviating the situation and more interested in making the most of what little time he has left. He has a seemingly endless amount of poetic chance encounters with former classmates, all of whom resemble potential romances. It’s kind of heartbreaking since it’s as though he is saying goodbye to individuals to which he only really knew in passing. Should he not spend more time taking care of his now even more doomed canine friend? Maybe with his wife and/or mistress? The past is hinted at, but in a very progressive turn on the character’s part, he manages to live in the present.
Rysopis is a beautifully staged film, with an opening in which the tracking camera seems to be equal parts Bela Tarr and Touch of Evil. The editing is sketchy, but the intentions are good. Trying to be elliptical is often more than enough, as it’s difficult to attempt at making a “disjointed” movie and somehow fail. That’s not meant to marginalize the accomplishment of this movie. It’s an excellent first feature, but on its own, it is mostly a curiosity for those (like myself) interested in Skolimowski’s entire career. Still, I like what I saw here a lot. Hopefully, the film stock is clearer from here on out.