It’s difficult to describe the Polish artist Mariusz Wilczynski’s debut film, “Kill It and Leave This Town,” because the animated feature — plotless, gloomy and surreal — is more a direct translation of feelings and sensations than a traditional work of storytelling.
There is truly nothing traditional about “Kill It,” in which the filmmaker reflects on his grief, mortality and isolation in his working-class industrial town. The grim film feels excavated from the subconscious: The coarse illustration style, with its frazzled, stray lines, emphasizes the bleakness of the images.
The first third of the film is especially brutal. A child needlessly berated by his mother; flies plucked off flypaper; a dying woman in a hospital bed saying, “I’m all alone here, lonely as an owl,” as her son, an analog of the filmmaker, brusquely brushes her off: Wilczynski makes a feast of the obscene, but it is, by nature, hard to digest.
The film does have the capacity for beauty — scenes of snowfall and rainfall and light streaming from buildings reveal an elegance that he works hard to negate. He’d rather we stare at a nurse carefully maneuvering a frayed thread through a needle to stitch not cloth, but the belly and genitals of an old woman’s corpse, while severed heads roll down the streets and humans defecate on the sidewalks.
Tadeusz Nalepa’s surprisingly energetic rock-heavy score, however, is a satisfying companion to the film’s swift shifts in scale and perspective.
After a while, Wilczynski seems to tire of his violent approach, and though the film maintains its dark dreaminess, his images soften, but a sense of listlessness persists that rejects resolution.
Because “Kill It” is more than anything an emotional experience, it feels long and taxing. Wilczynski might consider “Kill It” a success — but I don’t want to encounter it again.
Kill It and Leave This Town
Not rated. In Polish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.