Tadeusz Lysiak’s short film THE DRESS beautifully captures disability and intimacy

Desire. It’s what makes a person tick. Desire influences how each and every one of us behaves. In Tadeusz Łysiak’s live action short film “The Dress”, desire is the driving force behind every choice the protagonist, Julka, makes. Julka (Anna Dzieduszycka) is a young woman working at a motel who develops an attraction to a truck driver, Bogdan (Szymon Piotr Warszawski). Julka is a young woman who has dwarfism, an umbrella term that encapsulates various genetic predispositions. This has caused her to feel out of place and unwanted by those around her; men in particular. 

When she meets Bogdan she begins to desire him, as well as feeling desired herself. This leads her down a path of making choices that are all influenced by her desire for Bogdan. Dzieduszycka plays Julka with, what can only be described as, an incredibly human honesty. Julka’s character experiences a variety of stressors and traumas before, during, and, very likely, after the film. This is an aspect of Julka’s character that Dzieduszycka skillfully navigates while performing. While her raw emotion can often be felt by viewers, she also portrays a quiet strength that allows viewers to feel more than just pity for Julka; they instead feel empathy.

The visuals and cinematography that Łysiak has created tell a story all on their own as well. The colours of the motel and Julka’s other daily experiences are often grey and muted. On the other hand, the bar and casino feature a dark, almost black, interior with bursts of colour. This location is significant to Julka because she saw Bogdan for the first time in this location. But if one looks closer at the bar, they may find that it’s not as beautiful with the lights on. This is similar to how Julka realises that Bogdan may not be the man she had created in her head. 

The throughline of desire in this film is one that many, if not all, people can relate to. Media, fictional and real, has taught us that desire can push people to extremes in both good and bad ways; and this piece is no exception. While Julka isn’t driven to an outburst of any sort by her desire for Bogdan, she does find herself focusing all of her energy on him. 

The intimate cinematography, Dzieduszycka’s performance, and Łysiak’s direction guarantee that this film will be appreciated by all audiences.

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