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‘Unclenching the Fists’ Review: A Bold Filmmaking Voice Bursts from a Bleak Russian Coming-of-Ager

‘Unclenching the Fists’ Review: A Bold Filmmaking Voice Bursts from a Bleak Russian Coming-of-Ager

Savvy viewers of bleak Eastern European festival fare will get a sense early on in “Unclenching the Fists” why “Beanpole” director Kantemir Balagov championed this Russian slice of neorealism. Indeed, Kira Kovalenko’s Cannes Un Certain Regard-winning sophomore feature trades in that same kind of brutal austerity, as if the movie was conceived and shot from inside the bowels of a landfill. But at the same time, .

That young woman is Ada, living in a withering industrial town in the agriculturally anemic North Ossetia region of Russia with her father and two brothers. From the outset, her relationship with her father, Zaur (Alik Karaev), is established as one of parasitic codependence — he doesn’t like the perfume she’s wearing, or for her hair to be too long, or for her to be too far out of sight. She, meanwhile, abides his curfews and gets into a nervous state whenever

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