Nineteen-year-old Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) is living in an apartment complex in Warsaw with his godmother—staying in her son’s room while he’s away. Raised in an orphanage, the shy Tomek has few friends and works as a postal clerk. Tomek has been spying on a beautiful older woman, Magda (Grażyna Szapolowska), who lives in an adjacent apartment complex.
Using a telescope, he watches her every night performing mundane tasks, working on her artwork, and entertaining men. To get closer to her, he slips fake postal notices in her mailbox for a nonexistent money order at his post office. He also calls her anonymously to hear her voice. Tomek’s obsession is focused more on her everyday activities rather than her sex life; when he sees her becoming sexual with men, he trains the telescope away and does not watch.
Tomek learns there is a problem with the milk deliveries for Magda’s apartment complex, so he takes the delivery job to be closer to her. One night he sees her return home after breaking up with her latest boyfriend, spilling a bottle of milk, and then weeping over another failed relationship. Later, Tomek asks his godmother, “Why do people cry?” After receiving another fake postal notice, Magda has a confrontation with the postmistress who accuses her of extortion.
When Magda walks away upset, Tomek follows her and admits that he has been leaving the fake postal notices, that he saw her crying, and that he’s been watching her. That night, Magda arranges her bed so that Tomek can see her with another boyfriend. When they’re in bed, she tells him that they’re being watched by someone across the way. The boyfriend rushes down to the street, calls out to Tomek who comes downstairs, and then punches him in the face for peeping.
The next day, while delivering milk to Magda, Tomek admits that he loves her and that he expects nothing in return. Overwhelmed by his feelings, Tomek rushes up to the roof of the building, and then returns to Magda’s apartment and asks her for a date—and she accepts. An elated Tomek races through the courtyard with his milk cart.
During their date at a cafe, Magda learns that Tomek has been watching her for a year and that he stole letters mailed to her by an old boyfriend. At first, she’s upset, but then she dismisses it saying, “What does it matter.” In response to his earlier declaration of love, she tells him that love doesn’t exist—only sex. She shows him how to caress her hands the way lovers do.
A Short Film About Love (Polish: Krótki film o miłości) is a Polish romantic drama film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and starring Grażyna Szapołowska and Olaf Lubaszenko. Written by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, the film is about a young post office worker deeply in love with a promiscuous older woman who lives in an adjacent apartment building.
After spying on her through a telescope, he meets and declares his love for this jaded woman who long ago gave up on believing in love. She responds to his innocence by initiating him on the basic fact of life—that there is no love, only sex. A Short Film About Love is an expanded film version of Dekalog: Six, part of Kieślowski’s 1988 Polish language ten-part television series, Dekalog. The film is set in Warsaw. The film was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 61st Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
A Short Film About Love (1988)
Directed by: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Starring: Grazyna Szapolowska, Olaf Lubaszenko, Stefania Iwinska, Piotr Machalica, Artur Barcis, Hanna Chojnacka, Stanislaw Gawlik, Tomasz Gradowski, Rafal Imbro
Screenplay by: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Production Design by: Magdalena Dipont, Halina Dobrowolska
Cinematography by: Witold Adamek
Film Editing by: Ewa Smal
Costume Design by: Hanna Cwiklo, Malgorzata Obloza
Set Decoration by: Robert Czesak, Grazyna Tkaczyk
Art Direction by: Halina Dobrowolska
Music by: Zbigniew Preisner
Distributed by: Film Polski
Release Date: October 21, 1988