Director – Kirill Serebrennikov – 2016 – Russia – Cert. 15 – 118m
An obsession with the Bible drives a Russian secondary school student towards dark designs in a film with both religious and political ramifications – out in cinemas on Friday, March 3rd 2017
Late teenager Venya (Pyotr Skvortsov) needs something to believe in. Both the State and its lackey the Orthodox Church have failed him. He spends much of his time either thumbing through his dog-eared pocket Bible or reading aloud from it to those around him. His lone parent mum (Yuliya Aug) initially thinks it’s a joke but comes to realise that her son’s rebellion is grounded in something she doesn’t really know or understand.
Most of his classmates are more interested in sex and larking about. Venya skips swimming lessons where he objects to the girls’ immodest bikinis. Later in an empty classroom he pushes away Lidia (Aleksandra Revenko) when she removes her top and throws herself at him. He spends time with bullied and disabled fellow student Grigoriy (Aleksandr Gorchilin) whose leg he promises to heal.
For the most part his school’s principal, teachers and even its Orthodox priest (who he dismisses as compromised and Mercedes-driving) can’t handle Venya. Only his biology teacher Elena Lvovka (Victoria Isakova) makes any real attempt, eventually reading the Bible for herself to see what it says. This put her on a collision course with the teenager. In her sex education lesson employing carrots and condoms the boy strips naked to protest against immorality. He later imagines her having a fatal scooter accident after disabling her brakes.
On one level, this is a frightening study of Christian fundamentalism [read more]
Full review originally published in DMovies 02.03.2017.