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Living (2012)
"Zhit" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  30 August 2012 (Russia)
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A mother wants to reunite with her twin daughters. A young couple marry in church, but immediately after the ceremony, God - or maybe the Devil, or maybe Blind Fate - tests their love in ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Olga Lapshina ...
Marina Gavrilova ...
Kapustina's daughter 1
Sasha Gavrilova ...
Kapustina's daughter 2
Yana Troyanova ...
Aleksey Filimonov ...
Aleksei Pustovoitev ...
Evgeniy Sytyy ...
Artem's father
Dmitriy Kulichkov ...
Alena Lapteva ...
Irma Arendt ...
Fat woman
Yana Sekste ...
Vladimir Kostin ...
Policmen in hospital 1
Aleksandr Serikov ...
Policmen in hospital 2
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Konstantin Gatsalov ...
Olga Gileva ...
The doctor


A mother wants to reunite with her twin daughters. A young couple marry in church, but immediately after the ceremony, God - or maybe the Devil, or maybe Blind Fate - tests their love in the most brutal way.A boy wants to see his estranged father, despite his mother's violent protests. Each of these characters lives through their own ordeal. Written by Fraghera

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30 August 2012 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

Leben  »

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User Reviews

Commendable film about death (in spite of the title), also showing inside view on Russian life
28 October 2012 | by (Amersfoort, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

I saw this film as part of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2012. I applaud the stepwise introduction of the respective characters, together with introducing the interleaving story lines, all three running in parallel without any connecting persons or locations. There was only a tiny confusing fact that one of the persons was called "Mama" though not being a mother at all (apparently, it's an existing male Christian name there).

Anyway, the introductory scenes were very good, much unlike some films where you get overwhelmed with a shower of various characters, to the extent that you cannot tell who-is-who, needing half the film to finally tell them apart and understand the purpose each one serves. In this case, the parallel story lines do not really cross in person or location. The specialty of this film is that they carry a common theme of life and death. It is not immediately clear from the start, but inferred in hindsight.

This screening was a world premiere, with a considerable part of the film crew present. Before the film started, the director announced that the film was called "Living" but actually was all about death. There was no further explanation. There was also no Q&A afterwards to enlighten us about this. Yet, I can imagine there is a higher purpose for this live versus death theme.

The story and the visuals were entertaining enough to keep us watching for the full 2 hours. Great acting, great views inside and outside the houses, and (as a bonus) also providing for some insight in how official people behave (I refuse to use the term "civil servant" here) in this country. That was illustrated by the social worker as well as by the policeman in the hospital, both not acting as professionals should. (Side note: I saw Twilight Portrait (Nikonova; 2011) a few days ago, with a very depressing view on Russian society. I may be prejudiced and reading too much between the lines here. End side note.)

I noticed a few open ends, but it did not hamper my experience, just raising minor questions. For example, the bicycle that is thrown aside in the beginning of the film, re-appears later to be thrown in the river. I'm not sure it meant anything.

Back to the life and death theme: We see several people die, and observe how their relatives react on these unnecessary deaths. I won't spoil it for you, so I can only say that some very unbelievable things start happening. None of them eventually lead to a happy end, however.

All in all, I had every reason to give the maximum score for the audience award when leaving the theater. Despite a few minor flaws and unexplained matters, I can recommend seeing this film without hesitation.

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