Yet his protracted period of doomed courtship gives us ample time to examine the fabric of this remote society, as questions about its sustainability, practicality and principles are all raised via involving and often absurd sketches that riff on the daily struggle.
Despite this being his first fictional film, Dvortsevoy exhibits the storytelling composure and technical proficiency of a veteran, while his keen eye for a pastoral poetic flourish places ‘Tulpan’ firmly among the year’s most endearing cinematic experiences. And how many films can boast a single-take shot of a baby goat being born and receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?
Cast and crew
Having been highly praised above and by other critics, and apparently an award winner, I went to Tulpan with high expectations. These proved ill-founded. One critic called this a comedy, but what humour there is is dampened by the all-pervasive landscape of the Kazhakstan steppe - desolate, oppresive and depressing. This is not redeemed by thin characterisations and the sort of longeurs that are seen in an "art" film like this as a virtue but are often just boring. The birth of the goat described above may be justifiable as a symbol of hope ,but try sitting through the protracted high pitched singing of one of the children in the family yurt, while another squeezes blackheads out of her father's back for what feels like hours. I'm still trying to shake off the gloom.