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The Independent Critic

Janusz Madej, Martin De Boer, Jennifer Bhagwandin, Gabriel Rissa, Adi Spektor
Janusz Madej
87 Mins.

 "11" a Tremendous Feature Debut From Janusz Madej 

Janusz Madej, director of the critically acclaimed short film Stigma, serves up one of early 2014's more compelling indie dramas with 11, centered around Michael (Madej), a former US Marine awakened by a single drop of water. He's in a Amsterdam hotel room. It's his birthday. His girlfriend (Jennifer Bhagwandin) is nowhere to be found. A mysterious note sends him on a search to find her through the shady streets of Amsterdam, including a stop at a bar where just the night earlier he'd had an altercation with a quartet of Moroccan men, streets where he discovers the secrets behind "11."

As was true with Madej's stand-out short film Stigma, 11 is an intelligent and involving feature film with a fantastic ensemble cast and a sense of both style and substance that is certainly rare in Hollywood films and not all that common even in the arthouse world. While the central theme may sound more than a tad familiar, writer/director Janusz Madej has a gift for both the written word and its visual presentation and has crafted a truly compelling and unforgettable film that is simultaneously thrilling and meditative.

Madej, a Poland-born director with an extensive background in ballet (Yes, really!), offers a strong and emotionally resonant screen presence as Michael, a thought-provoking and emotionally compelling character whose past and present are woven together quite nicely. The film also features fine performances from the likes of Jennifer Bhagwandin, who worked with Madej on Stigma, along with Martin De Boer, Gabriel Rissa, and Adi Spektor.

Lensing from Altin Kaftira is nothing short of mesmerizing, both unsettling and humane, while Bartlomiej Gliniak's original music companions the film to perfection.

It would seem that not only does Madej have a clear vision for 11, but he also does an excellent job of communicating that vision to the team that surrounds him. The end result is a film that is thought-provoking, visually appealing, and immensely satisfying.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic