Beanpole ★★★★

Unfolding like a raw wound, Kantemir Balagov’s fiercely intense, accomplishedly plotted historical drama Beanpole challenges the viewer in exploring hard truths of the past that you can’t look away. The film follows two women Iya and Masha bound by war trauma, and their toxic, complicated relationship. The film reminded me of Cristian Mungiu’s abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days where it also explored the struggle of women faced by difficult circumstances and having to choose on limited options to survive.

Beanpole’s simmering first half might be a challenge, but it ultimately rewards the viewer by its stunning, overwhelming second half. Its two female leads Viktoria Miroshnichenko (Tilda Swinton-like) and Vasilisa Perelygina both gave fearless portrayals and memorable images of female suffering I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s also noteworthy considering Balagov’s bold staging and use of vivid colors and costumes to deepen its narrative.

You have to be mentally and emotionally ready to see this film. The slow, simmering power of Beanpole has its emotional rewards. By the end, you’ll thank yourself for being patient throughout. More so, it established Balagov as a promising cinematic talent.

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