My Joy

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From its very first shot—a dead body covered by fresh cement at a building site—Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa's scorched-earth version of Candide lays out its thesis in bold strokes: Welcome to a Russia that's rotten to the core. (Let's just say the title is drenched in Slavic irony.) A truck driver (Viktor Nemets) must deliver his load to the rural outskirts; corrupt checkpoint guards, hitchhikers, teen prostitutes and thieves make that goal all but unattainable. Once our hero goes missing, several seemingly unrelated tangents suggest that the Motherland's long, fermented legacy of lunatic behavior doesn't merely linger so much as take on new forms. When the driver finally comes back...well, it's best you discover My Joy's brilliant, bleak full-circle return firsthand.—David Fear

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