6 March 2020 | shanbhattacharya_
Beautifully photographed sombre winter account of a land far away.
From the very beginning of the film the director makes it clear to the audience that this is a story of a place unfit for human habitation. A soviet-era forced labor settlement with perpetually dark extreme winter, heavy snow, industrial smoke, old crammy apartments make an excellent landscape for stunning photography. This film utilizes that opportunity to its full extent. More than half of the film's running time is comprised of well-composed static slow-paced shots of melancholy winter landscape of snow, smoke, trains, grey walls, buildings, metal structures and wall graffiti. Beautiful as they are, they also express a certain boredom that is evidently present in the lives of the town inhabitants. The director does not delve into the lives of these people on a personal level, rather chooses to focus on the only two interests that keep the younger generation of the residents occupied on a collective basis - cadet school and ballet. In an oppressive cycle of nothingness, the children practice dancing and warfare like a social duty, an inescapable tradition in robotic precision. Everyone is free to leave, yet they don't - that's what the producer said when he presented this film to a local festival I was attending.