- Director:Aleksei Fedorchenko
- Cast:Yuliya Aug, Larisa Damaskina, Olga Dobrina
- Release Date:May 17, 2012
- Running time:75 minutes
- Film Worth:$17.00
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A resonant, lyrical and beautifully realised cinematic experience.
This modest gem will probably be generally overlooked, which is unfortunate because it's a cinematic fable of considerable power and lyricism. It's also often exquisitely beautiful, thanks to the picturesque countryside in which the story unfolds. There's ambiguity about how much actual folkloric custom and myth is reflected here, and how much was simply written into the script, but either way it works sublimely.
The narrator is Aist (Igor Sergeyev), a laconic middle-aged man whose equally reticent best friend Miron (Yuri Tsurilo) has just lost his beloved wife, Tanya. Rather than have her buried in their West-Central Russian town, Miron resolves to follow the ways of his people - descendants of an ancient Finno-Ugric tribe called the Merjans - and take her body to the water. He asks Aist to accompany him on the drive. Since the coast happens to be thousands of miles away, what follows is quite an odyssey.
Aist is considerably more revealing in his voice-over recollections than he tends to be in conversation with Miron, and so we learn a fair bit about Tanya (Yuliya Aug) and her emotional history. Miron for his part briefly adheres to the Merjan tradition of a widower going into uncomfortably intimate detail about his married life. Aist takes his caged buntings along on the trip, and the little birds - like most other elements in the story - are symbolically significant. Still, the essential appeal of Silent Souls lies not in meaning - let alone plot - but in its strange abiding atmosphere: equal parts hyper-real and mystical. That said, the narrative arc is strong and satisfyingly dramatic.
Don't be put off by the short running time, by the way. Silent Souls has more visual poetry, depth and resonance than most longer films.