Year Released: 2014
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 87 minutes
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It’s his birthday, and war veteran Michael (writer/director Janusz Madej) has woken up in a hotel room in Amsterdam alone, with his girlfriend (Jennifer Bhagwandin) nowhere to be found. At first, he goes about preparing for his day, but as time moves along, he becomes increasingly concerned about her absence. As he leaves his room to explore the hotel and surrounding city, he begins to have flashbacks and memories of their time together, including an altercation at a club the evening before.
Suspecting that she may be in danger, Michael goes to the cops, but they won’t even consider her a missing person until after 24 hours has passed. Convinced his time is running out, Michael takes things into his own hands. The problem is, he still doesn’t entirely know what’s going on.
Janusz Madej’s 11 is a stylistic psychological thriller that plays with the ambiguity inherent in a protagonist who doesn’t necessarily have his head together well enough to tease out whether something is or isn’t horribly awry. There may be no mystery to solve, or else, he may not be the one to solve it.
Thus the film becomes as much a self-journey for Michael as it is the grander exploration of Amsterdam. He’s falling down a rabbit hole, trying to make sense of it all, but he’s not necessarily there because he chased a rabbit. The more confused the situation, the more committed to his ideas, and unhinged, he becomes.
In some ways, the film reminded me of Fincher’s The Game. In other moments, it felt very Lost Highway. In still other areas, there was a hint of Hitchcock. All capable of delivering a sufficient mindfuck of a film experience, 11 falls in and out of step with them all.
Stylistically, the film goes for flash. The edit can often be quick, and imagery is tweaked to make memories appear to be scarred, old film footage, for example. Imagery is also sped up or slowed down in moments, making the visual landscape often as shaky as the psychological has become. Sometimes the style gets a little distracting, but not terribly so.
The visuals do suffer in low light conditions, however. The graininess and uncertainty of the image become more than just a creative choice, but also a slight detriment. It works in setting a realistic view of events, but since so much of the film indulges in stylistic flourishes, the film could’ve gotten away with more creative solutions to low light moments.
Overall, though, 11 is a warped walk through one man’s life, as portrayed in a journey over the course of a day in Amsterdam. The grander implications of where the narrative takes us is open for discussion and interpretation, but not in a review where they would be considered spoilers, so I’ll just say that the film is everything it portrays, and yet nothing at the same time.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on December 29, 2013 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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