There are essentially only five characters in the story, yet they present a finely-tuned balance between the three ordinary, predictable characters and the two creative geniuses who live for their art. The ballerina Gizella and the artist Glinskiy are both very interesting, and with Bauer's expert guidance the actors (Vera Karalli, who contributes an enchanting ballet sequence, and Andrei Gromov) bring them to life effectively. The artist character is especially nicely drawn, highly eccentric and obsessive, yet with enough balance to make sure that he does not become a stereotype. The other three characters are used effectively as a balance, both in the story developments and in establishing the personalities of the two leads.
Bauer's technique, as always, shows a sure hand, using special techniques at the right places. The dream sequence is particularly affecting, with an atmosphere carefully established, the camera slowly drawing away from Gizella's bed, and then the dream itself using some creative visuals.
The story of love and obsession draws you in almost effortlessly, and it's not possible to pull back, even when the sense of foreboding becomes almost unbearable. As a whole, it's a tightly constructed movie that makes a memorable impression.