Floating Skyscrapers by Tomasz Wasilewski ›› Floating Skyscrapers - Plynace Wiezowce

a film by Tomasz Wasilewski.

2013 | 89 mins | Poland.

principal players: Mateusz Banasiuk / Kuba, Marta Nieradkiewicz / Sylwia, Bartosz Gelner / Michal, Katarzyna Herman / Ewa; Kuba's Mother, Izabela Kuna / Krystyna; Michal's Mother, Olga Frycz / Monika, Miroslaw Zbrojewicz / Jacek; Michal's Father and Mariusz Drezek as the Coach.

Adapted Synopsis: "Aspiring champion swimmer Kuba lives a normal, uneventful life at home with his mother and girlfriend. But Kuba has also been growing more curious about some of the boys at the gym. At a gallery opening one night he meets Michal; a young man who is currently trying to convince his concerned mother and distant father that his lifestyle is not just a passing fancy. But as the two grow ever closer, can Kuba face up to the fact that he has never experienced feelings as deep as those he holds for Michal?"

Dave says:-

Billed as Poland's first ever gay feature; perhaps so, probably not, what is certain is that this is a case of the good, the bad and the downright ugly. To start things off on a positive note however, there's a compelling gay love story being told here, that of the tale of promising sportsman Kuba whose passion for swimming is put on hold upon a chance encounter with all-round cutie Michal; a man proud of his gay self, in spite of the somewhat lukewarm reception to his sexual openness on the home front. Yet such a situation is one that Kuba can only but dream of, with his possessive live-in girlfriend Sylwia and ever domineering mother Ewa literally running, if not ruining his life. That his one true love is all but obvious, prompts the emotionally bittersweet story of a man caught between the calling of his heart and that of a soulless heterosexual relationship governed by social conformity.

Burgeoning feelings of homosexual love, in Floating Skyscrapers.

Burgeoning feelings of homosexual love, in Floating Skyscrapers.

Indeed, with a poignant scene in which lover boy Michal proudly declares to his father that "you know I won't change", you just know that things are not going to turn out well for our pair of star-crossed lovers. And no surprise to learn that this is where the ugly part of the story emerges, given if you were a Polish gay teen watching this film, then its closing act would send you running back into the closet faster than Linford Christie in the 100 metre final. Savage and frankly sickening in its depiction of homophobia, such can only but make you question if the ingrained sexual prejudice of the film is truly representative of the views held in this post-communist member of the European Union?

That said, production values are high throughout, with the underwater footage in particular well shot. Yet there's equally a lot of padding to be found, sequences that add nothing to the plot and which would have been better left on the cutting room floor. Thankfully the cast play their opposing roles well, with Mateusz Banasiuk as bisexual Kuba delivering an achingly realistic portrait of a man struggling with his burgeoning feelings of homosexual love, in an intolerant society. That the man himself is far from shy in displaying his sexual charms to potential suitors, let alone to his girlfriend equates to scenes of penile nakedness that continue right up to and including the end credits. Yet no amount of male nudity and there's a lot on show here, can misdirect your attention away from the film's brutal homophobic narrative, making this the polar opposite of Beautiful Thing; being more akin to a case of Brokeback Poland.

That this film makes for a striking study of a girl determined to do whatever it takes to hold onto her man, in spite of having seen his love for her exit stage left into the arms of another and a man at that too, is not in doubt. Yet and in spite of Bartosz Gelner as Michal doing an exemplary job in saying it with pride, this is also a picture that whilst groundbreaking in depicting a homosexual relationship on Polish screens, equally defines a country that evidently has a long way to go in cinematically showcasing the welcoming hand of gay acceptance and support.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3 stars. 

contains: full frontal nudity throughout from lead Mateusz Banasiuk, rear nudity from both Banasiuk
and co-star Bartosz Gelner, together with brief footage of male-to-female genital kissing.

›› available on DVD as part of the Matchbox Films catalogue: 24.March.2014 / UK ‹‹
›› also available on DVD as part of the TLA Releasing catalogue: 30.September.2014 / US ‹‹
Copyright 2015 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
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