The Shoe is a nice little comic satire on the not too distant past about Cold War Eastern Europe and its paranoid government security system. When a shoe is found on a Latvian beach it is interpreted as a major security breach. Three soldiers and a German Shepard are dispatched to a local village shoe in hand to find the owner and detain her. A rather strange Cinderella story ensues as the clumsy soldiers are ignored and given little assistance or cooperation by the town's populace.
Laila Pakalnina has written and directed a sly and soberly comic little gem of a film with this absurd depiction of the blundering inefficiency and misguided priorities of a totalitarian regime. Visually she manages to create some strong abstract images to give the drab town an interesting look and mystery and her camera movement and positioning allow the film at times to work as a silent. She is equally adept at overt humor (the opening scene of hysteria and over reaction to the shoe's discovery is beautifully choreographed) and subtle nuance in her mocking of Soviet efficiency ( the local postman does more for the town in a day than the entire inept platoon). Without disrupting the film's light tone she also effectively and economically conveys the oppressive nature of the state and the fear it instilled in the populace with a montage of portraits of home dwellers with frozen reactions to the Army's unnanounced intrusions. The soldiers may be bumbling but they represent terror.
On the down side the film moves very slowly in some sequences due to loose editing and there is little in terms of character development with the principals, but this is all trumped by Pakalnina's interesting mise en scene and illustration of the absurd. The Shoe is an odd size but a good fit.
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