Based on a novel by Rosa Liksom, this film, set in the late 1990s is a study of two people forced to spend time together in a cramped compartment. They are on a 1000 mile train journey in the middle of winter from Moscow to the Arctic port of Murmansk.
The film opens with a party for an unnamed young Finnish woman who is an archaeology and Russian language student (Seidi Haarla) at the elegant home of her lover Irina (Dinara Drukarova).
She is uncomfortable with Irina’s older intellectual friends, and preparing to leave on her own for a long train journey the next morning. The trip was one she and Irina had planned to do together to look at petroglyghs (ancient rock carvings), but Irina has belatedly made an excuse not to go.
The sleeping car has already been occupied by Ljoha (Yuriy Barisov), a drunken and repulsive slob mine worker, with a shaven head and wild eyes, also on the way to Murmansk, who crudely asks her if she is a sex worker. Conversation is difficult, they have nothing in common, and he is a nightmare but impossible to get away from in the claustrophobic, second-class compartment.
The train rattles along a frozen landscape, she listens to music on a cassette and tries to make the best of a bad situation. But gradually, a connection is formed and Ljoha proves himself to be belatedly considerate and helpful, even coming to the rescue when it seems impossible that she will achieve her aim in seeing the petroglyghs in an amazing snow storm.
Director/writer Juho Kuosmanen has made a fine and uplifting study about human connection, loneliness, and making friends when you least expect to – reminding us how people can show compassion toward each other even when they have little in common.
The film won the Grand Jury Prise at Cannes.
Russian and Finnish languages with English sub-titles.
Showing at Somerville, Nedlands from Monday 14thto Sunday 20thFebruary at 8 pm.
Watch there trailer…