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Directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev

Russia, 2011

Cornerhouse, 26 October 2012


Zvyagintsev paints an ugly yet curiously compelling picture of contemporary Russia, especially the rudderless young, a generation of pleasure seekers and ne’er-do-wells, always up for a drink or a video game or a somnolent hour or two in front of the TV.

However, the main focus is on Elena (Nadezhda Markina), the recent wife of a fellow who got rich during the Soviet and immediate post-Soviet eras.  Thereby lies a key to it all: we don’t know if he was or is KGB, but it seems obvious that his fortune wasn’t acquired through an offer of good customer service.  He is like a beast that his wife, and daughter too, fatten and feed off; and he deserves his fate, or so we are led to believe.

Lukacs would have abundantly admired the aesthetic realism of this film.  It has a slow, stately pace, which abruptly swerves and accelerates when Philip Glass’s troubling score kicks in.