The view from the Trans-Siberian Express – snow-covered fields, winding ribbons of steel track cluttered with rusted locomotives, labyrinths of Soviet concrete – may be beautiful, but any sane viewer will be sick to death of it after 118 punishing minutes of ‘Perestroika’, a numb treatise on memory, recovery and grief by artist-filmmaker Sarah Turner. Consisting almost exclusively of extended camcorder shots – some taken in 1988, some 20 years later – overlaid with Turner’s pretentious, over-enunciated diary entries, the film is indulgent in the extreme. A shame, because when Turner peers outside her cabin – and her own headspace – to explore politics, ecology and history, she offers moments of real insight. Her photography can be stunning – as in the opening and closing views of a hazy, smouldering Lake Baikal – but it’s hard to see how ‘Perestroika’ would have been harmed by a few cuts: say about 100 minutes.
Friday September 3 2010