Director: Mariusz Wilczyński
Kill It and Leave this Town is sombre, grotesque, nightmarish… and yet a surprisingly relatable, human story of one man’s nostalgia for the Polish city of his childhood, and his regret at not making the most of his time with his parents and best friend while they were alive.
A short introduction by director Mariusz Wilczyński before the start of the film gave useful context to this animation, which he notes he has been working on for a quarter of his life. Indeed, Kill It and Leave this Town is strangely autobiographical, an intimate look into a part of Wilczyński’s mind and soul. He describes using this film to escape his despair and talk to his loved ones as if they were still with him. We follow him through memories, imagined scenarios, and bizarre dreamlike sequences that all reveal something of the dual ugliness and beauty of life.
The animation itself is effective, there is something satisfying about seeing such simply, messily pen-drawn animation come to life and convey an emotion live action could never capture. I physically grimaced at the vulgarity of some of the characters. The evocative depictions of the harsh cold of an eastern-European winter, as seen through the window of a derelict apartment or train carriage, also stood out to me.
The music and sound in this film also significantly aided in creating its atmosphere of nostalgia, longing and melancholy. There are numerous excerpts of warm, crackly Polish pop from the mid 20th century, at times comforting, at times jarring. The best friend Wilczyński mourns was also a talented musician who used to create music for his films. We see him improvising on electric guitar to some slow, Pink-Floyd like avant-garde rock with undertones of jazz.
Though at times a challenging watch, Kill It and Leave this Town feels genuine, like it serves an important purpose in Wilczyński’s life. It made me appreciate and reflect upon my own.
Watch a Q&A with Wilczyński recorded for the Adelaide Film Festival below: