An unrepentant prodigal son straight out of a Russian jail returns to his hometown, Asht, to help his mother die with dignity. But his debts in his hometown are many and long overdue, the ... See full summary »
An unrepentant prodigal son straight out of a Russian jail returns to his hometown, Asht, to help his mother die with dignity. But his debts in his hometown are many and long overdue, the townspeople are tough as nails, and he soon gets more than he expected from the quiet village. In this dark comedy, his third feature, writer-director Jamshed Usmonov cast the population of Asht as its own persuasive self and his own mother and brother as the fractured yet formidable domestic couple Written by
A naturalistic film about a smalltime criminal who is duped into returning from Moscow to his Tajik village on the pretext that his wise, leather-skinned mother is dying. The corrupt locals want to collect his ten year-old debts by selling the dilapidated family home.
A vinnyjonesalike Tajik hardman - there is much lens-lingering on his fighter's cheekbones and thousand yard stare - our ex-con enters a period of langour, comatosing on vodka, kick-starting the village's movie projector (to edify the local drunks with Bollywood gorefests) and suffering occasional mild beatings. In-between, there is his offscreen attempted rape of a distant cousin and nurse (who, extremely disturbingly, falls in love with him), an ill-developed attempt to build paternal feelings for a cutesy illegitimate son, and the appearance of downmarket mafiosi 'from the city'. Further explanation would require plot-spoiling, but needless to say misanthropy rules and any audience hopes for redemption - or at least, some emotional depth - are ill-rewarded.
The film has extremely subdued pacing, stunted dialogue and uniformly cruel characters. Yet the passable cinematography and acting might engage minor anthropological interest. We witness a patriarchal society where women are kept behind curtain walls, hard-currency corruption is rife and a kingpin mayor calls the shots. Universals include the unforgiving nature of poverty-stricken communities and the gradual acceptance of death by the criminal's mother.
Best avoided. The film covers similar territory to the Iranian film 'The Wind Will Carry Us', but without depth of characterisation, long-distance landscape shots or high production values.
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