Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5
Original Title: Baby ryazanskie
Alternate Titles: Women Of Ryazan
Melodrama at its finest in this powerful tale of women surviving the roles they are forced into by their rural, close-knit community. A well-to-do farmer named Shironin has a son and daughter and is strict with his intentions for both: he sets up his son Ivan in an arranged marriage that the boy is unhappy about, until he discovers that his intended is Anna, a girl with whom he already has a mutual attraction. They are happily wed, while Shironin forbids his daughter Vasilisa to marry the blacksmith Nikolai, but she goes and lives with him anyway, making the unwed couple a pariah in the village in the process. The first World War breaks out and the young men go off to fight, leaving Vasilisa to prosper on her own while Anna is at the mercy of her drunken and abusive father-in-law and the two jealous, gossipy women who live with him. The intelligent examination of sexism in a society that needs to embrace the changes of the future is as instructive as the character interaction is exciting and involving, the film’s powerful drama brought to life by superb actors.