Tribeca Review: ‘Floating Skyscrapers’ Never Dodges The Inevitability Of The Modern Gay Indie Film Tragedy

Tribeca Review: 'Floating Skyscrapers' Never Dodges The Inevitability Of The Modern Gay Indie Film Tragedy

Ideally there’d be a way around
this, but it appears there is not: if you’re a gay couple in an independent
film, things aren’t going to end well for you. The cloud of disaster hangs low
over “Floating Skyscrapers,” a Polish drama about two male lovers that begins
with the conspicuous, unseen activity of consensual male sexual activity behind
bathroom doors as if it was a big, honking warning: walk into this film, and
you’re going to see and feel it all; if it wasn’t so upsetting, we wouldn’t be
hiding it right now.

Kuba (Mateusz Banasiuk) moves
through the waters like a shark, zipping through the pool as he trains daily,
bred seemingly from his early youth to produce a certain kind of results. This
is mirrored with his relationship with conventionally-gorgeous blond girlfriend
Sylwie (Marta Nieradkiewicz), whom he seduces regularly, the two of them
seemingly in love. Or maybe that’s just the cinematic allure of two gorgeous heterosexual people always half-naked around each other: whatever the case, the
two live with an older woman in an unexplained arrangement that apparently goes
hand-in-hand with his sporting skills. Even sex is based around a certain set
of requirements.

A date takes the two of them to
an art museum, which leads Kuba to roll his eyes and even burp at the works
collected on the wall. Moving outside, he strikes up a conversation with Mikal
(Bartosz Gelner), another man seemingly dragged to this presentation, but
enjoying the balcony with a thick, well-packed joint. As the two of them trade
a spliff, Sylwie watches from a distance wordlessly. Could she have expected
this?
 

Eventually, because these gay
tragedies also function as horror stories for straight females in monogamous
relationships, Kuba starts sneaking out under his girlfriend’s nose to meet
with the mysterious Mikal, getting picked up on the side of the highway, or
even meeting right after work. Despite his domesticated routine with Sylwie,
Kuba begins to question the confident path that’s been set out for him already:
it eventually bleeds into his career, with his skills suddenly slacking, his
desire to compete waning almost completely.

The title of “Floating Skyscrapers”
refers to a third-act anecdote, but Tomasz Wasilewski’s second film is deeply
intrigued by the cold architecture of building exteriors and the claustrophobia
of the indoors. While Kuba and Sylwie claim to be comfortable sharing space with
another, the camera never fails to capture them cramped within the frame,
inconveniencing each other. And when characters collide outside in scenes of
lust or violence, one can’t ignore how they are framed against oppressive
outdoor objects. With a fairly short runtime, it’s also worth noting how
Wasilewski manages to capture the nude body, both male and female: a mid-film
intimacy session between Kuba and Sylwie lingers on what appears to be an
unsimulated act of cunnilingus between the actors, their hips eventually
uniting like two pieces meant to be together.

Wasilewski’s intimate direction
and interest in artifice manages to eclipse the fact that our leads seem
unknowable, unreachable even. Kuba and Mikal grow closer and closer, but what
appears to be love is only captured through lust, the duo rarely exchanging any
meaningful words. It’s one of those films where you’re kept outside of the
relationship to the point where a late scene showing them laughing at each
other makes you wonder exactly what it is that these two discuss. Tragedy is
unavoidable in “Floating Skyscrapers” but Wasilewski at least manages to make it
immensely appealing from a visual standpoint, suggesting he’s only the right
story away from making a truly transcendent piece of art. [B] 

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Comments

Jaroslaw

sp. correction: that would be ‘movie’ not move.

Jaroslaw

This film has some positives, but fails in so many ways. Are we really to believe the leads are unaware of intense homophobia to be kissib=ng and screwing in public? Kuba can’t grow a pair and at least tell Michal (on the phone no less) why they’re breaking up? With all the negatives, what is the point of this move?

Jakehard

Yes it is hard to find well adjusted gay/bi men in films of any genre. That is what makes the movie, Pitstop, such a gem.

Fib

Sorry but you did some mistakes in polish names :-)
First not "Sylwie" only "Sylwia" ("Sylwie" is one of the grammatical form of this name), not "Mikal" only "Miachł" (english Michael).

Ł.

Who's «Mikal»?

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