Mike D'Angelo’s review published on Letterboxd:
[originally written as part of my TIFF '19 coverage]
A superlatively made historical bleakfest with which I sadly never quite connected. Think I got thrown early on, when something truly devastating happens and Balagov opts to just kinda skip past it; the small leap forward in time didn’t bother me, but the relative lack of emotion when one character tells another (revealing a crucial detail in the process), and the subsequent matter-of-fact efforts to procure a replacement of sorts, did. My aghast pal and TIFF roommate Scott Tobias argues that this is Beanpole’s very point, viz. coping with one unimaginable trauma on the heels of an entire nation’s unimaginable trauma (this is Leningrad just after WWII), and he may be right, I may be crazy, ho! Can’t pretend that I didn’t experience pretty much the entire film at a remove, though. Just never felt vital to me.