- Released: Thursday, 17 May 2012
- Runtime: 75 mins.
- Distributor: Icon Films
This is a mood film, running for under 80 minutes. It has elements of Russian melancholy as a loner storyteller travels with his factory boss to perform the funeral rites for the boss’s dead wife.
The loner narrates a story, explaining himself, his mother, his depressed and alcoholic poet father. At the market, he is persuaded to buy two buntings in a cage (the meaning of the Russian title). There are flashbacks to his family, treatment by his father and the father’s funeral, as the two men travel along the roads of northern Russia. The landscapes are grey and bleak, the towns rather drab and industrial, the countryside, forests and lakes, are cold and wintry.
But, the story is also that of the boss and his love for his young wife (also shown in flashback) and his traditional chatter during the journey where he opens up about his feelings.
Because the Russians from this part of the vast country are close to Finnish tribes of the past, they have idiosyncratic beliefs and traditions. This is true of the rites for the wife: buying sturdy poles for building a platform where the body (which we have seen prepared, washed and clothed in meditative detail) is brought out of the car, where it has been wrapped in a blanket, then solemnly burned, the ashes collected and scattered in the waters.
The buntings cause an unexpected ending to the film (though the narrator had alerted us to it), leaving the audience with their reflections and their melancholy.
A film for festival audiences, a prize winner, including a SIGNIS award in Venice 2010.