The burden of an honest man sometimes seems like a labor akin to Atlas holding up the sky. That is basically the lesson of this Russian two hour long drama. From the plot synopsis I read I kinda was expecting more of a kafkaesque tale of fighting a fight that you couldn’t win due to fatalistic ignorance, bureaucratic red tape and life just being that cruel but turns out it was actually a rather honest, if abundantly pessimistic look at modern Russian and how hard it is to do the right thing in a sea of corruption, where nobody cares about the public good. Like the movie as aptly puts it (and I’m heavily paraphrasing this from my spotty memory) via the mouth of the city’s police chief: “I’m Russian, I can’t help but to take the bribe.”
It’s an incredibly bleak, nihilistic and depressing, yet at the same time, strangely compelling story. I don’t speak Russian, so perhaps the lyrics don’t reflect this at all in all honesty, but the Viktor Tsoi & Kino song “Calm Night”(at least my extensive googling makes me assume that’s what it is called) that is used as sort of a theme the film is positively perfect to capture the melancholic, broody spirit of the story. It sort of felt like it effortlessly embodied all the depressive qualities of the Russia the movie depicts and the ensuing pessimism that comes from living in such a country.
It also must be said that I petsonally found. Dima’s irrevocable honesty quite frankly inspiring. And incredibly sad also. You know he fights a unwinnable fight, but he still doesn’t just give up. He’s exactly the type of person we all want to be, yet it is his honesty that ultimately gets him into trouble because it has no place in this terrible world of ours, you only get trampled and hurt as your just reward for your selfless efforts. But that should never prevent you from doing the right thing, because the world needs its martyrs. We need that type of decency in people. And that’s why this truly is an excellent, thought provoking film well worth your time.