How I Ended This Summer

  • Year:2010
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Aleksei Popogrebsky
  • Cast:Sergei Puskepalis , Grigory Dobrygin
  • Release Date:April 26, 2011
  • Distributor:Palace
  • Running time:124 minutes
  • Film Worth:$14.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

While this should be commended for not spoon-feeding its audience, its pace will test the endurance of even the most patient viewers.

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Isolated on a super-remote meteorological station in the Russian Arctic, young slacker Pavel (Grigory Dobrygin) and his brusque superior, Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis), have only one connection to the outside world - a two-way radio. When Sergei goes on a fishing trip, Pavel is alone at the station when a vital piece of news is transmitted. The news relates exclusively to Sergei - who's not supposed to have left his post. But when he returns, Pavel withholds the information. Why doesn't Pavel say anything to his none-too-warm-and-fuzzy boss? That's left for the viewer to work out...

This Russian almost-thriller is intermittently interesting. It relies on the dynamics between the two men, who are the only characters here (unless you count the radio, which is, in a sense, a third character). It's impossible to warm to either of the men - and they don't like each other, either. Sergei, especially, resents young Pavel, who he regards as a mere tourist.


Quite atmospheric and remarkably photographed at a real Stalin-built meteorological station, writer/director Aleksei Popogrebsky doesn't spoon feed his audience. There are deliberate gaps in the action and dialogue - gaps where Popogrebsky wants viewers to do the mental leg-work. But he doesn't really give us enough to go on; we're not even privy to more than sparse background information on these characters. It's a storytelling style that could almost be described as experimental.

There are moments of tension, though, and there are still reasons to recommend this film - the acting is brilliant, and both Dobrygin and Puskepalis picked up awards for their work at The Berlin International Film Festival, as did Pavel Kostomarov, the film's deserving cinematographer. Even if you seek challenging, unusual films, How I Ended This Summer is over-long with too many empty stretches. It tests your endurance, yet this uncomfortable Arctic trip just still might be worth taking.

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