Siberia, Monamour was quite a different film than the others I saw as part of the Russian Resurrection Film Festival. This was a much darker and depressing film, yet by the end there was a sense of hope and the impossible suddenly felt possible. This is the kind of film that isn’t an easy watch, some audiences may find it too depressing while others will see that strange beauty buried within it. Personally, I am glad I stuck through this one, as the ending certainly made it worthwhile but it was a trying film to get through at times.
There are three storylines running parallel here, one being that of a young boy Lyochka (Mikhail Protsko) who lives with his grandfather (Pyotr Zaichenko). They are out in a place called Monamour, a now abandoned village in taiga. They are on their own; barely able to survive as the wolves are eating all the food and winter is coming. Lyochka as we gather as been left there by his father who is likely dead and the grandfather tells stories of his great man that we know aren’t true. We then have Yuri (Sergei Novikov), uncle to Lyochka who against his wife’s wishes brings them supplies every so often. The other story is that of two soldiers, an army captain (Nikolai Kozak) and a young rookie (Maxim Yemelyamov) who have been sent out to find a prostitute for the lieutenant. They come across a young girl (Lidiya Bairashevskay) who agrees to go with them but trouble strikes.
With so much going on, writer/director Slava Ross manages to handle the storylines well, and their weaving between each other is as smooth as one could hope for. Enough time is given to each to successfully tell the stories and then come together in a natural way. Each scenario seems to have this sense of hopelessness, and there are times it does become that. It is difficult to keep hope when the situations are so dire, but then something happens to restore the hope within the audience. I wont give these away, and the film certainly has scenes that serve as metaphors and again something I wont give away.
It is a beautifully shot film, one that does serve as a reminder that the natural elements can be harsh but they aren’t the only things one needs to fight with to survive. The performances are all extremely strong, they did come across as mostly natural. There were scenes that certainly made me question motives, and even why they were included, however they did seem necessary for the development and growth of the characters so my opinions did change. It is a challenging film, but one worth a watch all the same.