Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Germany/Ukraine/Netherlands, 2010. Ma.ja.de. Fiction, Arte France, Kinofilm, Lemming Film, Ma.Ja.De Filmproduktion, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Mitteldeutsche Medienforderung, Sota Cinema Group, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. Screenplay by Sergey Loznitsa. Cinematography by Oleg Mutu. Produced by Heino Deckert, Oleg Kokhan. Production Design by Kirill Shuvalov. Costume Design by Tuuli Malinovski, Mare Raidma. Film Editing by Danielius Kokanauskis. Cannes Film Festival 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Serge Loznitza makes his first foray into features with great success. Inspired by his own experiences crossing the rural areas of his native Russia and the stories he was told by people along the way, it centres on a truck driver delivering a supply through remote territory who undergoes a series of increasingly odd experiences before finding himself in a strange destination: after barely escaping rough treatment by agents at a highway safety patrol stop, he is surprised by the appearance of an uninvited passenger in his truck, who tells him a story about his own experience dealing with corrupt burueacrats in his youth during the war. When he is stuck in a traffic jam caused by an accident, the driver is approached by an teen prostitute with whom he goes for a short ride in an effort to circumvent the delay, and not long after finds himself alone and lost in the wilderness. From there the film takes a step into an atmosphere somewhere between a fable and a nightmare as our amiable protagonist is in an isolated village that seems to have no sense of order and authority, and he is manipulated by the self-interest of those he encounters and driven from one place to the next. What feels like random plotting eventually finds its way back to a satisfying origin point, but getting there is a very frightening experience that maintains a level of tension that is almost unbearable by the explosive conclusion.