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Jacob Chelkowski’s Tygrys (2015) is a film concerned with pornography. Porn’s lexicon of heteronormative images, the rituals of sexual performance, and the still taboo nature of kink are all at the heart of what Chelkowski is expressing in Tygrys. The premise, while seeming somewhat Kafkaesque to the uninitiated, is simply to show the day in the life of a dom/sub, furry relationship. Maksymilian Ceron plays the dom and Michalina Olszańska plays the submissive kitten.

Duration is Chelkowski’s primary tool for subverting the iconography of porn. The scene where Olszańska drinks milk out of a saucer goes on so long that the image ceases to titillate and begins to invite the audience to inquire as to why that image was so arousing to begin with. Likewise, Olszańska’s performance is highly physical but not in an exclusively sexual sense. Often her choices draw far more heavily from the realm of “creature” performance, elevating her character from porn to the fantastic. By the time the film self destructs in a rather predictable ending in which Olszańska attacks Ceron, all that matters is the images one remembers and the antithetical feelings one has about those images.

Just looking at the stills associated with this post Tygrys looks like traditional pornography. However Chelkowski’s subversive tactics are effective enough that the uncomfortable feelings of disgust and anxiety are all that remains associated with these images of Olszańska. The masculine gaze isn’t so much under attack in Tygrys as it is under intense scrutiny.

Michalina Olszańska is one of the great actors of her generation and here she is at her most courageous. Tygrys, like The Lure (2015), features Olszańska in a role that obliterates the conventions of female stardom explicitly. Both films are determined that the commodification of the female form be addressed and face some severe revisions.