Silent Souls

Watch enough movies made in the former Soviet Union and you'll acquire a taste for poetic, bitter resignation—it runs through the veins of the filmmakers like chilled vodka. Aleksei Fedorchenko's deep drama might be called a road movie, but that doesn't do justice to its real destination: a landscape of memory. A quiet photographer and his brusque employer head out for the rural provinces with a corpse in the backseat, the latter man's wife. After her sudden (and presumably natural) death, ancient rituals of mourning are observed, including the vividly named process of "smoke": engaging in chats about the deceased's unforgettable qualities. The wintry plains stretch out in the windshield as the pair of loners reckon with pain and mortality.—Joshua Rothkopf

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