Friday, March 31st, 2023

A very wet and retrogade Polish movie

Floating Skyscrapers

(Płynące wieżowce)

Written and Directed by Tomasz Wasilewski

Premiered April 18, 2013, at the Tribeca Film Festival
Drama (foreign)
93 min.


Review by Stephen O. Murray

October 24, 2014.

Floating Skyscrapers (Płynące wieżowce) is a very wet movie about a young Polish swimmer (I don’t know how old he is, but he has been in training for 15 years) named Kuba [Mateusz Banasiuk] who has been living in the apartment of his mother, Ewa [Katarzyna Herman], with his blonde girlfriend Sylwia [Marta Nieradkiewicz].

Ewa wants Sylvia out, and Kuba salls in love with a dark-haired pretty boy, Michał [Bartosz Gelner], who has no doubts about his sexual orientation.

The movie includes scenes shot form underwater in the pool, multiple scenes of characters in the bathtub, plus swimmers showering, and the three leads at and in a lake or river. Plus rain. (For wetness, it rivals the films of Tsai Ming-Liang.)

The scenes on land outside the bathtub have a dreary look with deserted Warsaw streets. And it is obvious that there will not be a happy ending. Indeed, the movie is like many Filipino gay weepies about gay men in love with straight men, though Kuba is in love with Michal (and, perhaps, also with Sylwia). There is more full-frontal nudity with Banasiuk’s large, uncircumcised penis recurrently shown.

The attitudes shown in the movie—and not critically— are retrograde. As Didier wrote in an IMDB review,

Though publicly celebrated for creating a gay themed film, [Tomasz Wasilewsk] has in fact unforgivably created a homophobic film which revels in the manifestation of gay victimhood and lacks the courage to establish a sustainable vision for sexual minorities in Polish cinema. Furthermore he plays into the hands of Poland’s political right by confirming their beliefs that sexual minorities are unstable, disruptive and as the perpetrator of the unacceptable only ever to be perceived as a victim to be mistrusted.

The movie movies fitfully (jerkily) to its unhappy-all-around ending, reminiscent of the bad old days of gay movies. Michal’s coming-out recalls the one in the Japanese classic Okogé in which the son makes his announcement, which is completely ignored as the other family members go right on talking about other things.

First published on Bubblews, 24 October 2014
©2014, 2017, Stephen O. Murray

About The Author

Stephen O. Murray grew up in rural southern Minnesota, earned a B.A. from James Madison College (within Michigan State University), an M.A. from the University of Arizona, a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (both in sociology), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley (in anthropology). He is the author of American Gay, Homosexualities, etc. and lives in San Francisco.