124 minutes| Russia| 2010| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

Take it as a comment on changing times in the former Soviet Union, or, better still, a gripping elemental drama, but Alexi Popogrebsky’s sinewy two-hander ushers its viewers to the very ends of the earth, where there’s no place to hide from yourself or anyone else. More precisely, the location is an old weather station in north-eastern Siberia, where the task of relaying meteorological readings back to base falls to loyal, abrasive stalwart Sergei and self-centred, wishy-washy college graduate Pavel – whom the old boy loathes on sight. Grigory Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis shared the Best Actor prize at Berlin and convincingly inhabit their roles as the film immerses us in their daily routine, before unexpected news and the junior partner’s positively wilful response turns an already tense relationship into a time-bomb. As the action moves outdoors, the imposing landscapes and endless summer light create an unforgettable epic backdrop against which these men will be put to the test.
It’s bracing stuff. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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