The poor stepchild of the movie industry, what we loosely call experimental film, tends to be banished to the fringes of festivals and out-of-the-way art houses. As a result, the opportunities for mainstream audiences to experience the unconventional are tragically few.
The pungent layers of narrative that make up “Glass Lips” may cross and collide — and occasionally confuse — but the intelligence behind them is clear. Written and directed by the Polish-American artist Lech Majewski, this haunting look at the nature of nurture uses the childhood memories of a traumatized young poet to explore themes and visuals ranging from the biblical to the baroque. Marshaling paternal abuse and maternal passivity into painterly, dialogue-free scenes of domestic isolation, the filmmaker creates an aesthetic of dysfunction that’s as beautiful as it is disturbing.
Originally shown as a gallery installation of 33 video artworks titled “Blood of a Poet,” “Glass Lips” contrasts natural sound — a gurgling stream, a wailing infant — with unnatural behavior, and meticulously controlled images with emotional anarchy. After a while the film’s expressiveness becomes so hypnotic that it’s difficult not to make your own connections: the discovery that the gaping mouth of a blow-up doll resembles nothing so much as a silent scream no doubt says as much about me as it does about Mr. Majewski.