Director: Sergei Loznitsa

Country: Ranska, Saksa, Liettua, Alankomaat

Year: 2017

Duration: 143 min

Languages: venäjä / tekstitetty englanniksi

Original name: Кроткая (Krotkaya)

Category: , ,

The film is named after Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Fantastic Story’ The Gentle Creature but, in terms of its plot, the only reference to Dostoevsky’s description of marriage is the nameless female protagonist.

We learn virtually nothing about the woman (portrayed by the stunning Vasilina Makovtseva). Her husband is serving a sentence in a faraway prison; innocent, she claims. As everything she mails to him is returned without explanation, she travels to the other side of Russia to find out what has become of her husband. She ends up in a strange little town, ‘the zone’, where everything seems to revolve around the inaccessible prison. Thus ensues a desperate attempt to reach her husband.

The circular plot and a grotesque bunch of side characters form a scalding portrait of the spiritual and material decay left behind by the Soviet Union. The film bombards the audience with various literary associations. The Russian critical tradition and the pathos of the common people are present, but fundamentally the question is neither about realistic social criticism nor only about Putin’s Russia, although many of its external characteristics stand out. Beneath the surface of the documentary lurks a subconscious undertone. As in a nightmare, the viewer is tormented by a premonition of the inevitable disaster ahead – which surely comes.

Lauri Piispa