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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
Koktebel is a very poor film made by obviously inexperienced directors. It centres on a father and son as they make their way from Moscow to the Crimea. Without money, they have to hitch lifts, get work when they can and rely on others' generosity. The film has enormous potential that is almost completely wasted by the directors. The cinematography (which clearly could make a film like this wonderful) is bad. The directors take the 'banale detail' camera-work to a new level in a clear imitation of better Russian directors (like Tarkovsky or Sokhurov), but carry it off badly, so that it becomes boring and sentimental. This is a real shame, since the Russian landscape is exceptionally beautiful in its sparseness and this is hardly captured at all. The directors are probably trying to show the the point of view of the 11-year-old protagonist, but it results in a pretentious and cloying film. Neither the script nor the acting are so bad, but the directors make unfair demands on the child actor playing the son, spoiling what would have otherwise been a solid performance. There are occasional good scenes, but the narrative lacks continuity and is horribly self-conscious (social stereotypes appear from the wings, making it seem like the directors have a tick-list of emotions they want to convey). The continual use of music (not a bad, but an inappropriate piece by Chick Corea) compounds the sentimentality of the film. Avoid it.
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