Time Out says
Tue Sep 20 2005Two guys and a girl walk into a spookily depopulated Moscow bar. Oleg says he delivers mineral water to the Kremlin, Marina claims to be in advertising, and Vladimir – the one with the most detailed and unreliable story to tell – is in genetic engineering, or so he says, and after a couple of drinks, he’ll tell you all about a cloning project that Russia has pursued for half a century. But wait, isn’t human cloning banned? His deadpan reply: ‘You forget what country we’re living in.’ Though director Ilya Khrzhanovsky denies that his synopsis-proof first feature is a product of the Russian necrorealist movement – self-consciously inflammatory underground art, film and video that symbolises (or feasts upon) the putrefying corpse of the Soviet state – the startling ‘4’ is nonetheless a howling orgy of decrepitude and decay. In a gait sometimes reminiscent of Béla Tarr on angel dust, the film traipses from an assaultive opener (suffice to say that dogs do not fare well here) to its centrepiece pub scene (26 minutes long!) to rustling industrialised wastelands (overlaid with rattling ambient soundscapes) and into some deep, damp woods, where Marina meets a formidable band of toothless crones writhing in the throes of a hysterical mourning party for her sister, Zoya. In this wet, wailing forest, Vladimir’s wild tales of quadruplicate villagers suddenly seem perfectly plausible, and Khrzhanovsky’s visceral, arrhythmic critique spins into overdrive, fuelled by grief, rage and surging oceans of vodka. Decidedly not for everyone, ‘4’ is an incomparably unhinged act of disinterment, but it’s also a fiercely willed feat of rebirth, raw and bloody and screamingly alive.
Fri Sep 23, 2005