A Short Film About Killing - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Short Film About Killing Reviews

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½ March 26, 2017
A glaring error in a violent scene makes this movie hard to get into. Its stark and cold, but not much else.
May 15, 2016
A short film about an irredeemably ugly world
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2015
Not as short or as about killing as you might believe. I suppose "A regularly-timed film about a political point of view" didn't have the same ring. Still, it's poignant.
August 2, 2015
It's been a while since last time I saw a Kieslowski film. I'm looking forward to give "Dekalog" a go, and this is one of the two films that are taken from the series and made a bit longer - or with fewer scenes cut out if you like.

This film is bleak and powerful. Things seem miserable and the world is not a happy place to be. We met grim people, and Jacek is probably the grimmest of them.
This dark film is not as good as I hoped, still it's a very good film. It looks incredible and the story is simple but powerful. The message is also quite clear here.

8 out og 10 dead cats.
July 13, 2015
Youngster driven by neglected hope striving for trouble. Seek thy punishment, and you shall get it. Complexed psychoanalystic prevail.
October 7, 2014
How can you say no to death penalty when one can be as violent as that? Guilt is certainly not an excuse.
½ March 28, 2014
A strange and unattractive film about a strange and unattractive man committing a strange and unattractive act
½ November 23, 2013
not for those squimish
November 19, 2013
An understated gem from Krzysztof Kieslowski. On the surface a movie about crime and punishment, but it is more an examination of the appropriateness and humaneness of the death penalty. Who is really the killer? Also briefly tackles fate, and decisions.

The plot is well-developed, with the main characters involved and their lives being introduced well before the crucial point in the movie. The tale is enhanced, if not entirely made, by the cinematography. It seems cheap, or outdated, but the rather lo fi imagery is perfect for the movie, giving it a grim, gritty feel.

Solid performances all round.
½ October 14, 2013
"Since Cain, no punishment has been capable of improving the world."
½ September 7, 2013
Watching both the movies made by Kieslowski simply amazes me how he handles both the contrasting subjects with so much ease.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2013
"Thou shalt not kill."

A dark look at the human's psyche, A Short Film About Killing unleashes a debate on how moral is relative from the personal perspective of whoever handles it given any situation. Despite some random emotional fillers that distract the viewer from the original intentions of the film, Kieslowski accomplishes a disturbing sepia tone for highlighting relevant issues, among which are:

- The contradiction of a death sentence as a condemnation of murder.
- The events that are behind the curtain of each individual: his personal life background that we do not see.
- The implications of standardizing human actions and restricting them to what has been accepted as an agreeable consensus.

It is easy to point the finger towards what you condemn, but remember that when you point with your index finger, there are three other fingers pointing at you. Silence is the wisest judge. Remember that our nature is flawed and dual, but complex too. In that sense, I also think that the intentionally darkened corners in the film plays a role. Notice several things about it:

- It only appears when the main characters are on screen, but not during the landscapes or neutral events.
- 90% of the times, the killer walks towards the dark corner, whereas the sentence executioners walk to it around 50% of the times (mmhh...), and the lawyer usually walks towards the bright side.

Maybe an invitation from the Polish auteur to form our own opinions? Great idea; I'll accept that invitation and construct my criticisms.

½ April 20, 2013
This is an incredible Polish film that shows how senseless the death penalty really is. The plot is very simple, but that doesn't make this film any less compelling. It follows a young drifter named Jacek, and an ambitious young lawyer named Piotr who is questioning the ethics of the legal system in Poland. For the first portion of the movie Jacek recklessly roams around the city of Warsaw while committing several mildly violent acts. This part of the film uses a dark-greenish filter that gives the city a dreary look. The climax occurs when Jacek hails a cab, and brutally kills the driver for seemingly no reason. Fast forward a few months later, and we learn Jacek has been sentenced to death. Piotr is assigned as Jacek's lawyer, and much to his dismay there is nothing he can do for him. In one of the best scenes of the film, Piotr visits Jacek in his cell, and what follows is one of the best humanize-the-killer scenes I've ever seen. When Jacek is put to death (by hanging), the film pulls no punches; it is shown in full detail. The director is trying to say is that there is no difference between state funded execution, and the senseless murder of an innocent civilian; murder is murder. The irony of government funded murder is that they fund the very crime they are punishing Jacek for. More importantly the shocking images shown ARE justified (unlike a film like Requiem for a Dream). A Short Film About Killing is actually an extended version of episode 5 of the Decalogue, which was a ten part series made for Polish television. I highly recommend both the Decalogue and this film.
½ April 18, 2013
I thought it was a powerful film, but it was perfect. They don't miss a single detail. The main theme is about how we all have a good and a really bad side and Death Penalty. The movie was released a month before the last execution on Poland. The story was wonderful, we see the three main characters in their bad side and we hate them, but when they show us our good side we like them for a while.

The scene were Miroslaw kills the taxi driver was impressive, mostly because you realize that this is the first time he murders someone and he doesn't even know how to do it, so he tries a lot of things to finally kill him, and the only thing that he wanted was the stupid car to impress his girlfriend.

The last minutes of the movie are also very powerful, we get to see Miroslaw regretting what he did, blaming his sister's death for his actions. The scene were he talks with his lawyer in his last minutes was very touching, Piotr only wants to give him the chance to be heard one last time, to let all out. Is terrible the way they threat Miroslaw, like he was an animal, let him enjoy his last minutes... but that's reality.

The scene of the execution is the most meaningful, maybe they don't talk that much, but we see the lawyer, a priest and a doctor standing on one side. They represent justice, religion and science and the truth is that they all on Death's Penalty side... The priest freaks out when the convicted only wants to kiss his hand. They all act like if executions were something extremely normal.

The performances were good, Miroslaw Baka acts so naturally that he makes you forget that you are watching a film. Jan Tesarz makes you hate him, the things he does and how he enjoys to do them. Krzysztof Globisz was good, not impressive, I didn't liked him at the beginning because he was a dick.

The colors of the movie are excelent because they put you on the context of a place were there's no justice, they have a lot of problems and not many good things happen in there.

If you like a good contemporary film, this is it... More realistic than a Tarantino film
April 18, 2013
This Eastern European critic bait is much less boring than Stalker or Werckmeister Harmonies, though that's not saying much. There was some trouble with developing or transfer, many of the frames are incredibly dark on one or two sides. Interesting look at the Polish death penalty, unlike the movie, they really didn't waste much time.
½ September 24, 2012
With its disturbingly graphic scenes of utmost violence, A Short Film About Killing proves to be a powerful attack on the capital punishment, and killing in general. It opens with a grim image of a dead rat lying in the sewers, and a strangled cat hanging lifelessly. The title appears on screen in a gory manner, and it's all accompanied by laughter of small children. The main plot depicts a story about Jacek, a young drifter in Warsaw, who performs some mildly shocking acts of roguery around town, until the unforgettable climax, in which he commits the most unscrupulous and atrocious crime of all - he kills a taxi driver with cold blood, and then steals his cab. Fast forward a couple of months, and we see how Jacek is sentenced to death by hanging in one of the Polish prisons. In all this grievous story, there is also an optimistic aspiring advocate Piotr, who passed the exam and got his job on the exact same day that Jacek murdered the irritable, yet completely innocent man. He wasn't able to defend him from the fate, and now he also pays the price, as he plunges deeper and deeper into the sorrow and horror of all the past and future events. The film was so meaningful in Poland that the authorities actually suspended capital punishment until further notice (nowadays the country's free from it). Very graphic and harrowing, A Short Film About Killing might give the viewer nightmares. Its very dark colors, mournful music, depressing atmosphere, and sorely effective message combine for a most memorable film. Krzysztof Kieslowski's striking naturalistic overtone bears a serious importance in this beastly world of ours.
Super Reviewer
½ September 11, 2012
While not sufficiently short, I did get its sense of killing (in terms of length as well as its content). Its graphic violent scenes are said to be highly effective. While not shocking, they're boring enough to end up as an avoidable drag (if it's the same movie I watched). Apparently, I'm at loss for my shortsightedness to savor this acclaimed masterpiece. All the same, I did find it engaging in parts, and appreciate its uncomplicated storyline. If only it was equally interesting..... Hope you face no problems enjoying it to its fullest.
August 5, 2012
truly powerful, intelligent, moving and brilliant film making.
July 2, 2012
A film so powerful it encouraged the Poles to examine their approach to death penalty.
Yatzek is an aimless 20 year old drifter who murders a taxi driver in a sequence which is brutally realistic and shows how difficult the act of murder actually is.

Director Krzystof Kieslowski shoots everything with a grey and green hue toning down more brighter coloursin favour of greens and black with shaded out images to place emphasis on certain parts of the film.

Kieslowski also manages to pick out details in his film that other less talented directors would have missed such as a falling cloth,a foot coming out of a shoe and a ray of bright light in a green field.

This eye for detail would be more pronounced in the three colours film which followed,but here the power of the images carries the film to its shocking conclusion when we see the execution of Yatzek by hanging.

Many consider Kieslowski a genius and on the basis of this one film im very much inclind to agree.
½ June 1, 2012
I'd barely call this violent, and I'd easily recommend it to the squeamish. The first hour is pretty dull in general, bland character development, meandering pace, and annoying melodramatic music. That said the last 20 minutes is a pretty powerful criticism of the death penalty and makes the film more then worth watching as a whole.
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