Samstag, 29. November 2014

Еще один год (Another Year)

Relationship dramas are hard to get right. You're not supposed to overplot them and lose a natural believability but you should somehow chart the up's and down's of the fluttering hearts; sentimentalizations are to be avoided but then every emotional wrinkle along the road must be felt. Russian director Oksana Bychkova's "Еще один год (Another Year)" doesn't quite make the test and gets stuck somewhere between its attempts to be casually authentic and genuinely affecting.

Following the lives of a young couple over the course of one year, the movie is formally linear and unorthodox only in the several temporal leaps it makes. While progressing at a deliverate pace on a day-to-day basis in the beginning, the story jumps ahead by months near the end. It's a conspicuous decision that draws scrutiny upon itself but the payoff is not immediately clear. Even if the purpose is as literal as to show a distorted sense of time between different phases of a relationship, it's not entirely working because the last part is too compressed to register as much more than a hastened wrap-up. The writing is uneven. There are a couple of exchanges that capture the teasing, intimate, adorably dopey tone of voice used by two people who know each other too well. But a far larger number of scenes are plagued with an inexpressive redundancy which doesn't allow us to get inside the heads of the two capricious, easily jealous characters.

Both lead actors are fine if underserved by their roles. A critical scene of argument is performed with enough childish outrage and cruel dispassion to remind you what a sad thing it is to behold the demise of love. Technically the film's unremarkable. The hand-held camera feels particularly nauseating without the aid of meticulous lighting and the sound sometimes comes off muffled. While the pedestrian look and the loose narrative are apparently both aimed at creating a realistic setting for close-range, incisive observation, they end up rendering the film anemic and disorganized.

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