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How I Ended This Summer [Blu-ray]
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A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere.
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The film is set in a remote Arctic research station in the Russian Arctic, where two scientists who happen to be, no pun intended, polar opposites, work together in islolation collecting data. The older man is a staunch product of the old Soviet system, whilst the younger is most definitely of the new era. The older man played with impressive authority by ex theatre director Sergei Puskapelis, is the dependable old school type, whilst the young man who is some sort of college placement, suffers from the irresponsibility that occasionally afflicts youth. He is played by Grigory Dobrygin, fresh out of theatre school. This young man is seen filling his spare time with less practical matters like computer games. Their situation changes dramatically when the young man fails to deliver a vitally important message to the older one. Suddenly the relationship begins to break down catastrophically. We head to an ending that surprises.
This film was made at a remote polar station in Chukotka district in Russia's very far north easterly extremity, nine hours time difference from Moscow. It was an inspired choice of location.Read more ›
Arctic setting, the glorious wilderness presenting a grand, yet harsh spectacle every bit as sparse as the film's dialogue. It's a two-hander between Grigoriy Dobrygin's callow youth and the seasoned meteorologist played by Sergey Puskepalis. Writer/director Aleksey Popogrebskiy does an excellent job of conveying the pair's isolation and the monotony of their existence, and there is a convincing tension created by the gap in their ages and experience, although Dobrygin's young adult antics, which highlight the disparity, are a bit 'on-the-nose'. These strands form a solid tripod for the conflict that follows, however it's the catalyst for that conflict that introduces a wobble which, for some, might topple the whole construct, one decision that some viewers might struggle to reconcile with previous events or any kind of sensible human instinct. At this juncture it seems that nothing more complicated than a moral compass is needed to keep their mission on track, but its lack, along with the absence of an actual compass later on, causes no end of ructions. Despite common sense saying that their difficulties could have been avoided by a straightforward conversation, the end result is a convincing escalation and a compelling third act. If you can accept the single, arguably inexplicable (and certainly unexplained) failure to communicate, How I Ended This Summer is a highly satisfying watch and, either way, these three are ones to look out for in the future.
The plot, such as it is, centres on Pavel's failure to pass on to Sergei an important message concerning the safety of Sergei's family, and the gradual build-up of tension and distrust between the two characters as Pavel continues to delay making the communication. There follows a series of pursuit sequences as Pavel realises Sergei's likely reaction once the message is received. The film's cinematography, focusing on the remote station in the middle of the arctic wilderness, is superb and serves to reinforce the sense of despair of the main characters.
Despite rather overstaying its welcome at over two hours duration, the film should be recognised as a worthy (and rather original) attempt to cover what is essentially an uncinematic set of events. I was, however, surprised to see that the film won the Best Film award at the 2010 London Film Festival, since (even out of the small selection of films that I saw) I would have rated other films more highly, for example Daniele Luchetti's La Nostra Vita and Peter Mullan's NEDS.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Once again the Russians show how you can create art cinema by contrasting a bleak subject with extremely beautiful cinematography and superb realism.Published 5 months ago by mysterioustraveller
gloomy and depressing in a depressing landscape as only Russians can do. Not a patch on LeviathonPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I spent the first half of this film wondering if it was good or not, but by the end I felt profoundly affected. Great film.Published 8 months ago by E. Stables
I found this film to be a profound exposition of the stages of masculinity. The men are not Hollywood heroes or European romantics, but ordinary people entangled in tragedy and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by JPMT
... and not metaphors. Alexei Popogrebsky, in his 40 minutes onstage interview, heavily insists on this fundamental credo of pure epics. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Peter Seibt
This film is by Popogrebsky, russian art house director of younger generation. It won a prize at Berlin Film Festival. Watch it I if you prepared to slow pace development. Read morePublished on 28 July 2013 by Artist