When you miss the start of a film, you can’t help feeling you’ve missed some important aspect of the plot that would have made it comprehensible. That’s how I felt with this Russian film. The first twenty minutes consisted mainly of a guy wandering through a blighted ice-covered landscape carrying a radio. Enigmatic, beautiful in lots of ways, tragic. Then it cut to another chapter and another and it became clear that there was nothing really finished or linear about this film. There were a brother and sister grappling with change after their father’s death, a man who kept returning to his childhood in his dreams and disaffected, drug-affected youths searching for a 12 year old taken hostage. Maybe there were more, that’s when I left.
I don’t often walk out on films – Absolute Beginners (remember that one from the 80s?) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation being the only two I remember – but life’s too short when you have 50 films to see and I did give this one a good go. I don’t mind enigmatic or non-linear but if the point of the film is going to be obscured until the end, it needs to have something else to keep you going – beauty, finely-drawn characters, moments of clarity. Not this one.