Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Ovsyanki
Moody, slowly paced drama that begins when the narrating protagonist is visited by his friend who informs him that his young wife has died. He wants to drive her across northern Russia and bury her in the style of their Meryan tradition, a Russian subculture that maintains elements of ancient pagan rituals. The two men wrap the deceased in blankets and take her to a river where she will be placed on a funeral pyre, in between treating us to scenes of contemplation and beautifully photographed, vast expanses. The lure of traditions of the past are so strong that even modern day situations take on ritual significance. Subtle and peaceful to experience, the film is not groundbreaking or unforgettable, and a great deal of the offscreen narration is superfluous, but it has a cold tenderness that makes sure it is never actually boring or pretentious.