Balabanov's first feature could be described as a purgatorial allegory. As idiosyncratic as his later Of Freaks and Men, it takes its inspiration from Samuel Beckett. A character named Peter, Sergei or possibly Boris (Sukhorukov), his head wrapped in bandages since his release from hospital, roams the decaying flats and cemeteries bordering St Petersburg's Winter Palace square, in search of somewhere to stay. This is a world of Kafka-esque hostility and minatory mystery where only a blind man with a donkey and a fallen aristocratic woman offer the protagonist any amicable communicative signs. Could these be ironic reminders of the balms of religion, or the lost certainties of the old social order? The director employs b/w most expressively, whether in exquisite gliding crane shots, or in claustrophobically framed dark interiors, where the camera will often alight and pause, affectingly, on an object before moving on. Similarly, his mood effects are emphasised by canny use of non-naturalistic sound. An extraordinarily well-realised doom-lover's playground, the existential gloom makes way only for Svankmajer-like surrealism.