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A bomb explodes in a shopping mall. Sam the security agent tries to save the victims, but at the end he runs off. Later he encounters all the people he saved. They all think that somehow he is responsible for what happened.
Titus De Voogdt,
Aslan is a 13-year-old loner who lives with his grandmother on a farm somewhere on the steppes of Kazakhstan. When he goes to school, he becomes the victim of bullying by the local thug Bolat. Shy and taciturn Aslan, supported by the relentless new student Mirsayin, starts to seek cruel revenge on the bully. Written by
A cold, unsparing drama about extreme bullying, from Kazakhstan
Harmony Lessons is, I think, the first film I have seen from Kazakhstan.
An austere, very dark film about school bullying and retribution taken to an extreme, it seems to take inspiration from the starkness of Bresson, only without the comforting presence of God or redemption anywhere in sight.
At first it demands patience, and seems rootless and disorganized, more slice-of-life than narrative-driven. But one's patience is rewarded - just about no shot or scene, however small or unimportant-seeming at first, isn't followed up on later to become a motif or develop some thematic significance to the overall story. Only once it's finished does it become clear what a carefully constructed and deliberate vision this film is.
The second half of the film in particular lets all the pieces fall smoothly into place, generating a story with an impressive amount of emotional impact. It also makes a nice parallel with the first half.
The film damns cultures of violence that are allowed to breed and self-propagate in isolated rural areas. But it is also unforgiving to those who choose to lash out in violent retribution. Is it not casually that Gandhi is name-dropped during a history lesson at the school.
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