Floating Skyscrapers
Leave Us a Review
  • Floating Skyscrapers
  • 93 minutes  -  Drama
  • Original title: Płynące wieżowce
  • Director:Tomasz Wasilewski
  • Language: Polish
  • Country: Poland

A young Polish swimmer has a promising future in sports and enjoys a stable relationship with his girlfriend. However, his life is shaken up when he falls in love with a handsome gay man in an art gallery.

Watch the trailer
REVIEW BY Magda Maksimiuk Movie EXPERT
Review posted: 02/12/2013

It has only been a year since his directorial debut, In the Bedroom (W sypialni), but Tomasz Wasilewski has already been called the most promising film-making talent of his generation, which does not seem to be just exaggerated praise. His second feature, Floating Skyscrapers (Płynące wieżowce), is currently making its rounds in film festivals around the world. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier in 2013, and has recently won the East of the West prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

"Floating Skyscrapers is an intimate 'coming out' story set in a country where the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' policy is a binding commandment in society."

Although Wasilewski calls his movie “the first Polish LGBT film ever,” he is not entirely right. During this year’s Berlinale Film Festival, Poland had a very strong runner in the main competition – In the Name of… (W imię…) by Malgoska Szumowska – which is centered around a Polish Catholic priest who turns out to be gay in a gossipy small town community. Polish cinema, as well as Polish society at large, is finally beginning to notice something that has long been obvious in other parts of the globe, that it is normal not to be straight and openly talk about it. It is high time that the representatives of Polish culture consider the huge potential of this topic and show the rest of the world how our conservative society is coming to terms with sexual preferences and is eventually growing up. Floating Skyscrapers might just be a step in the right direction.

The movie takes place in contemporary Warsaw, with all its winding, narrow, pseudo-highways, its concrete blocky flats, and its famous and ultra-fashionable open-air clubs by the river Vistula, where young and wealthy “warszafka” spend their own or their parents’ money ("warszafka" is a negative term describing the inhabitants of the city who earn and spend a lot of money and usually work in international corporations). The main protagonist, Kuba, is a promising professional swimmer who lives with his whimsical mother Ewa (Katarzyna Herman, the main heroine of Wasilewski’s debut In the Bedroom) and his girlfriend Sylwia (Marta Nieradkiewicz). Living together brings about tensions, and so does the rather strange relationship between Kuba and his mother. All this, however, gets pushed aside when, at some random artsy party in an art gallery, Kuba meets Michał, a handsome gay guy. Suddenly, Kuba loses interest in practicing his beloved swimming, doesn’t get along with his mum anymore, but desperately tries to fall in love with his girlfriend again, thinking that perhaps his gay crush is temporary. This, however, is not meant to be, and he instead feels more and more attracted to Michał.

"Wasilewski’s second film is already a very mature one. He weaves the story in a gentle, sensitive way, deeply caring for the people he talks about."

Floating Skyscrapers is an intimate “coming out” story set in a country where the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is a binding commandment in society. Sexual orientation is not exactly something a family would talk about over dinner. In this respect, Wasilewski is a very good observer, a voyeur of a kind. He knows exactly what a typical Polish middle-class family looks like, and he does not hesitate to present it in full light and mock it. For instance, when Michał tries to tell his father about his sexual preferences, finally bursting out with “I’m gay,” his mother immediately changes the subject, turning attention to her granddaughter: “Jakie ona ma różowe policzki” (Look at her flushed cheeks). Later, the obviously embarrassed father starts talking to his son-in-law about football (apparently the only topic everyone has something to say about), criticizing the performance of famous Polish footballer Marcin Wasilewski (no relation to the director). Knowledgeable audiences laugh twice: first, at the joke about lousy Polish football; and then, at the director winking at us with a play on his own surname. This is how Wasilewski, the filmmaker, temporarily releases the film’s condensed tension, only to return straight away to the inconvenient truths. The “coming out,” although it happened, gets swept under the rug again. On the outside, everyone pretends to be tolerant and understanding. Inside, however, they pray the issue doesn’t concern them. And this hypocrisy is there to stay.

Wasilewski’s second film is already a very mature one. Without conveying violent sexuality (although ignoring it completely would be wrong and the director knows it), he weaves the story in a gentle, sensitive way, deeply caring for the people he talks about. Floating Skyscrapers is understandable under any latitude, bursting with sound effects and electrifying music (composed by another Polish talent, Baasch), frugal with words, and rich in emotion and meaning.