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A widowed aeronautics engineer, who has lost his job, travels with his son hopping freight trains from Moscow to Koktebel, a town by the Black Sea, to start a new life with the father's sister. After they are stopped by a train guard, they continue their travel on foot. The father battles against his alcohol addiction and the son is fascinated with the idea of flight. One rainy day an old man accepts them in his house in return for the repair of the roof. The father gives in to the alcohol offered by the old man, who in a drunken brawl accuses him of stealing money and shoots him. A young female village doctor takes care of him and a romantic relationship between the two ensues. The father feels reluctant to continue the journey. The son leaves alone and a truck driver gives him a ride to Koktebel. However, his aunt has left for the summer. Written by
A film like this just couldn't be made in America, where action must occur at a slam-bang pace, and children must be either pitifully ignorant of life or else caricatures of evil. Here, there is exquisite attention to detail -- a countryside, a vase of flowers, and long periods with no dialog at all where a mood is simply allowed to develop. The passage of time may not be in equivalent "real time," yet it passes noticeably. And what a skilled performance by Gleb Puskepalis, a boy with, as often seems to be the case, a distinguished acting history in legitimate theater. His character is master of his fate and of the plot, and he himself is master of the camera and the cast. I like this film especially because it is the boy who is rational, determined and self-directed, while the adults, as in reality, are continually made fools by their alcohol, aggression, and just wanting "to f*** each other" all the time. Bravo!
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