June 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment

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There is nothing so perky as Russian noir and, true to form, this little confection will not be featured on any tourism sites.  Elena and Vladimir are on their second marriage, having met ten years earlier.  Vlad is wealthy but Elena was just a nurse before they met.  They both have adult children who are the primary source of tension between them.  When money becomes an issue, things go terribly wrong.  What really works is what happens afterwards.  The audience has expectations about how this is supposed to go and all of that is turned on its head without ever losing a constant sense of dread.  With its minimal score by Phillip Glass that punctuates moments of impending peril (eg a baby on a bed, teen boys headed into the night, a power failure), the film suggests that terribly things may (or may not) happen at any time.  With the brilliant final scene mirroring the first, it suggests that nothing has really changed in any of these bleak lives and the only thing any of them can really look forward to is just more tragedy of some type at some point.  As I said: perky.

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