‘Closeness’

Closeness_(film)A raw, uncompromising narrative set in the bleak underbelly of an impoverished neighbourhood of Nalchik, a Russian industrial city in the northern Caucasus.

Living in a predominantly Muslim area, a young Jewish couple are abducted. The ransom is too high for either parents to reach. Family and community relations reach boiling point, particularly as independent-minded Ila (a powerful debut by Darya Zhovnar) continues with her relationship with Zalim, a man ‘not from the tribe.’ But the question remains – how far is the family willing to go to save their son, David?

The directorial debut from Kantemir Balagov is seedy, confronting and simply unpleasant, populated with a series of characters that are simultaneously overbearing and deeply unlikeable.

Screened in the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Rating: 25%

 

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‘Leviathan’

Leviathan-PosterAs bleak a story as the Arctic coastal town in which it takes place. Leviathan, co-written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev (the equally bleak and pessimistic Elena), is a devastating, coruscating political allegory of modern day Russia as Kolya attempts to fight the system and the corrupt local mayor to save his home and livelihood.

Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar  earlier this year (and winner of the same category at the Golden Globes), Leviathan is a slow-burner full of drama and suspense. Quite simply – stunning.

Rating: 89%