The most stunning feature of How I Ended This Summer is its
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.