A remote Arctic research station becomes a hotbed of jealousy and intrigue in this taut but unsatisfying two-hander. Old lag Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis) and scatty, self-absorbed student Pasha (Grigory Dobrygin) are nearing the end of their self-imposed exile at the end of the world when a series of mishaps and misunderstandings cause them to turn against one another. Alexei Popogrebsky directs with a sure hand and his use of landscape is impeccable: we get a powerful sense of these characters' total isolation. But his grasp of narrative is less assured: motivations are often obscure, and the film ultimately takes one too many short cuts on its way to a suitably grim, unsettling finale.
Cast and crew