Siberia And Him ****
Starring: Ilya Shubochkin, Viatcheslav Kopturevskiy, Anastasia Voskresenskaya
Director: Viatcheslav Koptureskiy
Billed as the Russian Brokeback Mountain, we follow two men from a small town as they cross Siberia together. Sasha (Kopturevskiy) is struggling with depression, feeling ostracised from society by his sexuality. He’s been having an affair with Dima (Shubochkin), his brother-in-law, but feeling guilty for the sake of his sister (Voskresenskaya) and worthless for being forced to hide in the shadows. As the two men cross the wilderness together to visit his grandmother, their feelings are far outweighed by outside pressures as tensions mount and tragedy looms.
The film is littered with stunning vistas filmed on location in Siberia. You’ll positively drink them as the camera slowly pans around the bleak but majestic landscape. These two souls wandering the vast frozen North seem insignificant in comparison, but are both wrestling with such enormous problems that their story seems utterly monumental. Their love triangle would be difficult for anyone to untangle, but in the current climate in rural Russia? Impossible.
There is such an earnest solemnity about them that there’s no doubting the gravitas they carry. Shubochkin instils such intensity in Dima that you feel his grim-faced passion oozing from the screen. Kopturevskiy is doe-eyed and grave, going through the motions of his deep depression. Make no mistake, this is a sober film packed full with hopeless gloom. But with Lawrence Of Arabia style grandeur, there is epic ambition in both its cinematography and its Shakespearean narrative.
Though not the first Russian movie I’ve seen, this is the first LGBT movie I’ve come across from the Eastern superpower. With such hostility toward gay people trickling from the top down, it is no surprise that Siberia And Him is such a bleak movie, because when enmity is embedded on a macro level, it will appear on such a human micro level to. It’s a beautiful story, captured beautifully.
OUT NOW TO WATCH ON DEMAND ON DEKKOO. OUT ON 26TH MAY ON DVD, RELEASED BY TLA RELEASING.
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