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Dekalog 6 (1988)

A review by Damian Cannon.
Copyright © Movie Reviews UK 1999

A curious but wonderfully arranged piece, Dekalog 6 comes to detect and nurture love in the most unlikely of places. In the reinforced forest of tower blocks where thousands live and die, privacy is a rare and artificial commodity. All a resident need do is glance out of their window and into those of strangers, which is exactly what Tomek (Olaf Linde Lubaszenko) does. Using a telescope lifted from the nearby school he spends his free time spying on Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska) and her succession of lovers. By feeding her false money orders, which draw Magda to the post office where he works, and making silent phone calls, Tomek has established a line of contact. When this is no longer enough, Tomek engineers a position as her milkman.

In an ironic vicious circle, Tomek's brief encounters with the object of his fascination only serve as fuel to his need for greater involvement. Through provoking a crisis at the post office, Tomek grabs his chance to chase Magda down and vomits out the whole sordid story. The curious thing is that while she initially appears repulsed, that evening Magda leaps upon her lover in a display intended for Tomek's eyes. Then Magda turns the tables by informing her man of their voyeur, leading directly to a fistfight in the car park. With the ice broken, Magda decides to prove that there is no such entity as love (which Tomek professes for her), there is only sex.

Supposedly stimulated by the commandment of "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery", Dekalog 6 takes a typically skew stance. By locating the love in an activity as wilfully perverse as spying, a universally recognisable chord is struck. There is a fascination implicit in watching others, as confirmation of both the viewer's normality and of the target's importance to someone else. Hence it's not all that surprising when Magda responds positively, recognising a kindred spirit of loneliness (even though she should be sprinting for the cops). The clever twist is that Tomek and Magda switch roles, leading to her becoming the obsessive. A simple script manipulation yet one that speaks volumes about fear, intimacy and individual needs.

Irony is often found to be buried within Kieslowski's movies and Dekalog 6 is no exception. In its most obvious form, the insidious shift that forces Magda to become a voyeur stands out. However, the driving force behind this change is guilt and the realisation that she has destroyed an innocence that can never be recovered. Tomek comes to her offering a pure love, unstained by lust and desire, yet Magda is too cynical to accept him at face value. Stamped by a lifetime of pointless sex, all she can do is misinterpret his overtures and then, too late, regret her actions; now that's ironic!

By focusing on such an unusual aspect of romance, Dekalog 6 is almost unique within the world of cinema. The only weak points reside in the acting, with Lubaszenko proving quite blank and inexpressive. The most emotive figure turns out to be Tomek's godmother (Stefania Iwinska) yet she is barely given space to allow more than a glimpse of her character. The strengths of the film lie in the script, direction and cinematography -- together easily sufficient to make Dekalog 6 a memorable and intriguing experience.


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