Slow to convince, Carrère’s intriguing, often fascinating, documentary focused on a small Russian town adds up to something of an examination of documentary itself. Planning a film on Kotelnitch (situated 50-odd colder miles east of Moscow) and having met and employed as translator a young woman (the wife of an FSB officer) who was subsequently murdered, Carrère and his new translator Sacha return to report the aftermath and interview the victim’s mother, husband and others. Carrère’s methods are intimate; the camera is rarely off even during the long, drunken nights. The result is a complex amalgam: revealing verité footage unable to clear the fog of mystery of human endeavour, identity and ‘truth’, laced with Carrère’s own, gently poetic meditations on his own familial link to the Russian homeland.
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