I’m not too sure what to make of this film. It’s a Russian film about a man and his friend who go on a journey to bury his wife in the ancient traditions of the Meryan people.
This film is quite short in duration (75 minutes) and the pacing is bone achingly slow. As the story unfolds it doesn’t just deal with the two men’s journey, but it deals with the dying traditions and the last efforts to maintain them.
The cinematography is chilly and very stark. The environs of the habitation seems a world away from the comforting nub of civilization. It could be argued that in the film, nothing ‘happens’. I think this is part of the film’s inner magic.
What I liked most of all was how the river (the Volga) connects all of the story plot threads and how the souls of the dead represented are never really gone.
A downside of this film, however, is the very eerie, almost voyeuristic camera work. This is a road movie, just like any other, while simultaneously managing to show a sexual explicitness which is too much at times and puts us right in the middle of the slowly unfolding scenes. If I could put this film in my ‘Top 10’ list, I would – if only for the ending – but alas I will not. The novelty of sexual explicitness wears thin when the film tries to justify it in lieu of representing art or deeper feelings.
MY RATING: *** / *****