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How I Ended This Summer
(Kak ya provyol etim letom)
Directed by Aleksei Popogrebsky
Russia, 2010
Cornerhouse, 22 May 2011

How I Ended This Summer

At this film’s heart you have a relationship between two very different men, Sergei and Pavel, which breaks down with disastrous consequences for both.

The two men are by themselves at some Arctic outpost, there to take readings of the radioactivity levels and other such like environmental measures.  Their only contact with the outside world is via radio and when one man (Pavel) receives some bad news to pass along to the other, senior man it is an unwanted obligation, a hot potato, something he doesn’t know what to do with.

Most of the time, the film is a stark portrayal of how two men can get along, despite differences in character and outlook: one man is serious and conscientious, with a family and responsibilities; the younger one, while lazy and with a liking for computer games, is nonetheless sensitive.  For some of the time, though, it is two guys all alone in the icy wastes, fighting each other with guns and whatever weapons malice can conjure.

Both actors, Sergei Puskepalis and Grigory Dobrygin, are splendid.  There’s an anxious, tremulous feeling to the film, deriving in part from the icy environment of stark solitude where nature is king.  These men could almost be on the moon, they are so alone and so dependent on each other… and trust is a fragile commodity.

A fine film.

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