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DIRECTED BY: Ilya Khrjanovsky
FEATURING: Marina Vovchenko, Yuri Laguta, Sergey Shnurov
PLOT: Three Moscow strangers meet at a bar and tell tall-tales, and then we follow what
happens to each of them after they leave.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s weird, indubitably. The problem with this cold, wandering drama is that very few viewers will have patience with its molasses pace and murky symbolism; it’s slow without being hypnotic, and mystifying without being mysterious. It’s difficult to reject out-of-hand a film with high critical marks, excellent technique, and definite weirdness, but 4 seems too dry and directionless to resonate with many non-Russians.
COMMENTS: The shadow of Tarkovsky must still cast over the shoulder of every weird Russian filmmaker, just as the legacy of Lynch haunts their American counterparts. The master’s influence can be seen throughout 4 in the lovely, leisurely treks through misty tundra; heard in the sound collages mixing mutated railroad clicks and hisses with synths and the baying of far off hounds; and felt in the appropriation of one of Tarkovsky’s favorite symbols, the dog. The dogs who prowl the rubble of 4‘s Moscow streets and chew up villager’s livelihoods are not the loyal, mystical, otherworldly observers of Stalker and Nostalghia, however; they are remnants of social upheaval and agents of chaos. With it’s Kafkaesque moments, portentous dialogues, mutant piglets and nightmare crones, incidents of Khrjanovsky’s feature debut conjure up a gloomy mystery that would have fit comfortably into a Tarkovsky film; but unlike its inspirations, it lacks much of a story, is missing an undercurrent of hope that cuts the despair, and has no emotional core. The film likely reflects the mood of early capitalist Russia, circa 2005: ashamed of the past, already weary of the present, and fearful of the future. Maybe the fact that the movie captures the latest iteration of Russian melancholy so perfectly is what makes it difficult to watch, and harder to love. As the story begins we follow three contemporary Muscovites: a meat packer, a prostitute, and a Continue reading CAPSULE: 4 (2005)