In 1948, Alfred Kinsey and his co-workers published the first study of sexual behavior in humans. They introduced the Kinsey scale (0-6) that attempts to describe a person’s sexual orientation. ‘0’ on the Kinsey scale means ‘exclusively heterosexual’, while ‘6’ means ‘exclusively homosexual’. According the Kinsey, people’s positions on the scale tend to shift over time. You can take the test here: vistriai.com/kinseyscaletest.
I took it. And I’m a ‘2’, which is a bit surprising since I have always considered myself purely heterosexual. According to the test results, I’m ‘predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual’. I’m not sure if the scale measures my sexual potential or the level of my inhibitions. Anyways, the Kinsey scale shows us a simple truth about the human nature – we are not made of stone, and having said that, we can float. Even sexually.
Floating Skyscrapers (2013), then, seems like a very appropriate title if we want to describe the innate tendency of humans to change over time. Its director, Tomasz Wasilewski, created a universal love story with a tragic twist. It’s so versatile that it begs a comparison to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The dialogue in Floating Skyscrapers starts with Michał (Bartosz Gelner) asking: ‘Is that a joint?’ This is, admittedly, not quite as poetic as Romeo’s ‘If I profane with my unworthiest hand…’ speech, but even so, there’s a universal appeal at work in this movie from its very beginning. Wasilewski’s Romeo and Juliet are Kuba (Mateusz Banasiuk) and Michał, who aren’t star-crossed lovers from feuding families; they’re two young men. Their fight isn’t with their loved ones; it’s with society as a whole. Because of this choice of characters, Floating Skyscrapers gets referred to as ‘the first LGBT Polish movie’. This label is a bit unfair, since Wasilewski managed to avoid social stereotypes and the story is mostly free of common clichés.
Kuba is an alpha male. He’s got short hair, trains in swimming and is, generally speaking, quite masculine. His relationship with Michał develops slowly through a series of back-and-forth actions and exchanges. They struggle not only to be accepted by others, but also by themselves. In this pair, Wasilewski created very deep, empathetic and believable characters. Their motives seem real and their actions are very human. We see their lack of self- acceptance, superficial tolerance and dearth of self-understanding. However, I feel that the director walks a tightrope between the scandal and the universality of the story. Maybe it’s because of homosexuality is still such a controversial topic in Poland. Maybe it’s because this story is a bit too visually beautiful, creating a sort of a fantasy world that doesn’t exist in reality. To me this movie is an attempt to talk objectively and with no unnecessary emotions about something that to this day divides Polish society. It’s also an attempt to tell viewers that they shouldn’t label love or affection, that these kind of feelings can be found anywhere.
All over the Internet, people have been writing that this movie touches the ‘no-go’ area. That it’s trend-setting, groundbreaking and a lot of other hackneyed things that don’t mean much. I prefer to see Floating Skyscrapers as a beautiful though heartbreaking film that cuts to the deepest truths about love and human nature. We change and we can’t always decide who we fall in love with, but there is always some know-it-all lurking over our shoulders telling us how we should live our lives.
People say Romeo and Juliet is tragic. Watch Floating Skyscrapers and think whether the end of this movie with its stillness and touching passiveness isn’t more of a tragedy than two lovers, deciding to end their lives, but at least being together till the very last second. What’s revolutionary and dramatic, isn’t always the most tragic.
We all float. We even do it while watching a movie – we struggle with the plot, action twists and with the ending. We float in our admiration towards the main characters – we support them, but can’t understand some of their life choices. I think Floating Skyscrapers tells us a simple, a bit trivial, but yet very current truth about the human condition – we are not made of stone. We might be like buldings with concrete constructions, but we all also change depending on the circumstances.
You’ll enjoy this movie if:
- You like tragic love stories.
- Your perception of movies gets deeper than just a superficial reception of the action.
- You are more of a liberal. Super right- wing people wouldn’t watch anything that has ‘LGBT’ in its proximity anyways.
Directed by: Tomasz Wasilewski
Written by: Tomasz Wasilewski