Lonely Kazakh teenager Aslan is bullied at his new school. He prepares himself for a bloody revenge on the school bully Bolat.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Timur Aidarbekov ...
Aslan
Aslan Anarbayev ...
Bolat
Mukhtar Andassov ...
Mirsain
Anelya Adilbekova ...
Akzhan
Omar Adilov ...
Mad
Adlet Anarbekov ...
Daulet Anarbekov ...
Damir
Nursultan Nurbergenov ...
Maksat
Nurdaulet Orazymbetov ...
Daniyar
Erasyl Nurzhakyp ...
Arsen
Assan Kirkabakov ...
Shokan
Ramazan Sultanbek ...
Gani
Beibitzhan Muslimov ...
Chief Investigator
Bagila Kobenova ...
Aslan's Grandmother
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

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Drama

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Release Date:

5 December 2013 (Kazakhstan)  »

Also Known As:

Harmony Lessons  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

A cold, unsparing drama about extreme bullying, from Kazakhstan
10 November 2013 | by (Wallis and Futuna) – See all my reviews

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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