Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
An unforgettable take on war’s human costs, Russian wunderkind and former student of Alexander Sokurov Kantemir Balagov’s visually poetic and beautifully photographed drama is set in a Leningrad of near-intolerable privation in the aftermath of Russia’s WWII "victory." Lanky nurse Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), nicknamed "Beanpole" for her tall, thin body, works in a hospital and suffers PTSD-related seizures that leave her unconscious. When fiery Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina), the woman soldier Iya worships, returns from the frontlines, their intense relationship - tinged by a tragedy that occurs during one of Iya’s episodes and subject to the many horrors both of them have lived through – takes centre stage. As the desperate citizenry scrambles to survive, can the women return to a life even resembling normalcy?
Balagov elicits amazing performances from Miroshnichenko and Perelygina, both newcomers to the screen, and elevates Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexeievich’s stories of Russian women’s experiences during WWII - his inspiration for the film - to understandably harsh and yet ethereally beautiful heights. Beanpole is a remarkable work for anyone to have made, let alone for someone only 28 years old.
"Exceptionally crafted, devastating… ferocious, and extraordinary… [It] marks the undeniable arrival of Kantemir Balagov as a major talent…" - Jessica Kiang, Variety
FIPRESCI Prize, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 19