By Phil Hall | January 3, 2011

Grzegorz Cisiecki’s dialogue-free experimental short “Smoke” is presented as a story of a person “who became the captive of surrealistic madness.” The madness is represented in a skein of conflicting and haunting images: carnal seduction (as depicted by a stunning chick in a tight red dress), captivity (as portrayed by a humorless portly gent who appears to supervise everyone around him), depravity (a costume party where masked men serve as hosts and sentries), romance (views of pastoral and ethereal relaxation) and the utterly bizarre (particularly the image of a tape recorder placed carefully on a plate full of blood).

What does it all mean? As with most experimental films, easy answers are checked at the door – the viewer can try to piece together the nightmare logic of the sequences or just fall victim to the film’s striking visual style (kudos to cinematographer Dawid Rymar) and its haunting score (created by Rashid Brocca and Alkesandr Poroch).  It is not always easy to pull off a film in this genre, but there’s plenty of creative fire beneath “Smoke” to make it work.

As for the Belarus-born Cisiecki – who also plays the film’s handsome yet befuddled protagonist – he is clearly comfortable on both sides of the camera. “Smoke” is an intriguing calling card that should open doors for this talented young filmmaker.

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