Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How I Ended This Summer (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)
How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom / Как я провёл этим летом (2010)

Genre: Drama
Director: Aleksei Popogrebsky
Starring: Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis
Duration: 130 min.
Rating: 7.5

At a polar station on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean.  Sergei, a veteran meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on a once strategic research base.  Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere...

How I Ended This Summer is a Russian film written and directed by Aleksei Popogrebsky.  It premiered at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival where Grigoriy Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis shared the Silver Bear award for Best Actor, and cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov was recognized for his outstanding achievement in camera work.  It was also selected as Best Film at both the BFI London Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival.

A psychological drama set on a remote and desolate island in the Russian Arctic, the film explores the effects of isolation on human behavior.  Definitely the most notable thing about How I Ended This Summer is the stark and minimalistic cinematography.  The cold and barren landscapes of the island, and the old rundown buildings of the once important research base serve as the film's backdrop.  There are several astonishing time lapse sequences in the film to show the hours passing, the camera looking out of a window and capturing clouds roll across the bleak and wind swept vistas.  All of it sharing with us the sense of isolation felt by the two main characters.

Pavel or Pasha as he is called, the young assistant played by Grigoriy Dobrygin and Sergei the experienced senior researcher played by Sergei Puskepalis.  Both men give brilliant performances, perfectly enacting their roles with great chemistry.  We see the fascinating dynamic of a young slacker versus the older man who takes his work seriously.  But like all good psychological films all is not what it seems.  When Sergei entrusts Pavel to handling the duties in order to go on a quick fishing excursion, Pavel receives an urgent radio message from the mainland.  A shocking bit of information that weighs heavy on Pavel's mind and the consequences of what he does with this message begins to unravel his fragile psyche.

It's not a perfect film.  There are parts that drag a bit, and others that leave us a bit confused, but it is still a rewarding effort, and one that is very breathtaking to watch.  Russian cinema lately has been plagued with a rash of uninspired Hollywood style knockoffs, but this one is certainly a step in the right direction.

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)

How I Ended This Summer / Kak ya provyol etim letom (2010)


blahblahblahtoby said...

i finally found it available to rent, i'm invlined to agree with your thoughts. it had all the makings of something great but didn't quite make it over the line between good and great.

as you said, there were a few moments where you can't comprehend the actions of these characters.

plus points: superb acting, stunning cinematography (but in that location it would've been a poor work that didn't look fantastic)

negatives: i felt like with everything it had going for it they could've found a more interesting way to end the movie. although i think i would've just been happier without the shooting and the chasing, the way real life would be.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I suppose you are right, the inherent beauty of the location like a good model does most of the work for the photographer here. 

However, without all the chasing we wouldn't get to see the old rotting cabin, my favorite set piece in the film.

Matt said...

That's one of the greatest movie posters I've ever seen. Amazing art and detail.

Andrew Buckle said...

Hmm. I wasn't a big fan of this. Intriguing premise, stunning photography and fine performances. But the second half resulted in less than I expected. Nice observations though. 

d_4 said...

It seems interesting enough. I could feel it being able to drag a bit, but under the right mood that's not a big issue.

The Liquor Guy said...

Look's interesting, I will try looking for it on NetFlix.  Also, I saw Restrepo on the "you might also like" section.  It is an amazing documentary for anyone to see.  It really hits the heart for fellow Americans too.

Blorriepoes said...

so interresting. love the movie!

The Angry Lurker said...

Definitely an interesting premise.

Jarek said...

Looks relatively interesting - might give it a try based on your review

Tim B. said...

At least it wasn't Zombies. It looks like a good drama that might have a bit of thrill to it.

Guy Movie Blogger said...

This looks outstanding.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Hmmm I have a feeling if I watched it I would end up agreeing with Andrew

blahblahblahtoby said...

another film i was desperate to see at this years festival in perth and somehow didn't find the time. it certainly looks fantastic and offers the kind of mood that intrigues me with cinema at the moment.

i saw andy didn't like it over at his blog recently which disappointed me but now you've evened it out i'm looking forward to finding a copy once more.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah I have to agree the second half lacked a bit both in sustaining the tension and in providing the expected thrilling moment.  But I'm also sort of glad they didn't resort to using the obvious genre tricks.

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