Adapted from Leskov's 1864 novella, this is a blend of idyll and murderous film noir. Set in present-day Russia, it centres on Katia (Dapkounaite), a mousy housewife reluctantly typing up the the latest novel by her famous mother-in-law Irina. During a visit to the family's country house, Katia's husband Mitia abandons the women to go on a business trip, leaving his wife prey to Sergei (Mashkov), a carpenter who's been restoring the house for Irina. The affair is discovered by the tyrannical author, who insists it cease. Katia, however, has other ideas. Traditionally an icon of unbridled passion, Katia is here a muted, impassive heroine. While her later actions betoken a deep-felt desire to transform her life, her resentment against mother-in-law and husband and her longing for Sergei is barely voiced - less a consequence of Dapkounaite's sturdy performance than of the script, which vacillates between subtle allusion, unembroidered simplicity and enigmatic ellipsis. The director appears to be saying that the heated emotions of the literary classics no longer suit the modern world (or cinema) - despite plot twists that echo moments from such steamy adulterous suspensers as The Postman Always Rings Twice and even Blood Simple. Very different from most Russian movies released in Britain, this is elegant, intelligent and intriguing, even if the cool tone and languorous pace forestall deeper involvement.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||François Guérif, Cécile Vargaftig, Alla Krinitsyna|