Skolimowski’s raw debut feature is like a Polish ‘Breathless’, though much less interesting and with little to really engage viewers.
Dir. Jerzy Skolimowski
1964 | Poland | Drama | 72 min | 1.66:1 | Polish
Not rated – likely to be NC16 for some sexuality
Cast: Jerzy Skolimowski, Elzbieta Czyzewska, Tadeusz Minc
Plot: After being drafted into military service, a Polish student spends his last day coming to terms with his estranged wife, visiting old friends, and savoring some last moments of freedom.
Subject Matter: Moderate – Uncertain Future; A Day in the Life of
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse
I first heard of Jerzy Skolimowski because of Deep End (1970), which is an extraordinary film. In light of the release of his latest, EO (2022), I thought it might be nice to check out his feature debut, Identification Marks: None, which was streaming on MUBI.
Bad idea though. At best, it can be seen as a repository of ideas, vague as they may be, by someone who has yet to figure out what kind of film he wants to make.
So, Identification Marks: None is an exploratory work, playing with film language and working with a narrative that is far too fragmented to really engage viewers.
“I’d like for something irreversible to happen so that you couldn’t go back on it.”
But tell that to Godard and he might smack you in the face—the French New Wave auteur infamously asserted at the time on evidence of this film (which echoes the spirit of his Breathless) that both Skolimowski and himself were two of the greatest directors in the world.
Skolimowski plays the film’s young protagonist, a student who gives up on his studies and decides to join the military. Throughout the film, we see him spend his last day of freedom with a mix of intention and idleness—breaking up with his partner, making phone calls, and even having time for a rendezvous with a woman he used to like.
Partly made up of footage from his student works, the film’s raw aesthetics might interest those into form and style, but for me, with nothing much to latch onto, it is no more than a mundane ‘day-in-the-life’ exercise.