Beanpole ★★★½

Huh, the Russian version of Tall Girl is a bit...darker.

Was genuinely not expecting how much of this verges on body horror. It's pretty soul-crushing, with that uniquely savory unpleasantness that Russian cinema specializes in, a study of characters who attempt to go about their lives with the same transactional attitude they were forced to adopt during wartime, whose bodies inevitably betray the tremendous strain that takes. Major credit to Balagov and his cast of mostly newcomers for this creative take on post-war trauma - I was already impressed with their performances while watching the film, but finding out that this was the debut for both of the two leads takes it to another level.

And Balagov shoots this very nicely, clearly adapting some of Cuaron's penchant for long, tracking shots - there's two scenes on the trolley that feel almost straight out of Children of Men or Roma, and I consider that a pretty high complement, especially considering Balagov is only 28 years old (which, honestly fuck off with that). It's a bit too long and uneven, and not quite gay enough for my tastes, but still definitely a worthy choice for Russia's Oscar submission.

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