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
Portrays some realism, from an outsider's perspective
My Central Asian colleagues have not seen this film and perhaps wouldn't be too pleased by the portrayal of criminality in their region's rural areas. Nevertheless, I thought this film gave us a peak at some of the poverty, tradition, and beauty lacing post-Soviet Tajikistan. Jaded Hamro, a "Brat"- inspired apathetic only son (in his late 30's?) returns to his unwelcoming village hoping to pay his last respects to his 'ailing' mother. While few words are exchanged between the two, it's clear that he hasn't learned anything from his 10 years in jail, and that she is at a loss as to how to reform her son and settle all their debts.
The towns folk are filled with many unsavory yet somewhat amicable characters who remind one of greedy extended family members looking out for each other while guarding their own backs. The mayor seems to represent much of the political figures throughout this region, whereas grafts are not uncommon and one wonders what makes Hamro more of a criminal than the other leaders of the community. The role of women in this community seems dismal.
We get only a small glimpse of some of the proud symbols of this country, such as the mountains, pomegranate trees, and craftsmanship. Seeing as the country's recent history has experienced post-communist confusion, war, and an influx of refugees all leading to economic hardship, it's appropriate that these symbols are understated. There is a bleakness in the storyline, cinematography, and music, but the humor and realism makes this less grim than some of the Iranian and Kurdish films from the 90's. People for the most part are able to survive, perhaps because whatever they own comes from remnants of the Soviet days (clothing, property) and because they continue to hold on to their tradition. One of those traditions may be the hope that is placed with the younger generation.
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