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Koktebel Review

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A recovering alcoholic father and his son make an epic journey from Moscow to the Crimea.

★★★★

What a year 2005 was for Russian debutants. Adopting the same wry melancholy as Andrei Zvyagintsev in The Return, Boris Khlebnikov and Alexei Popogrebsky's ambling road movie manages to romanticise the Motherland while exposing its very real socio-economic problems.

The aura of a Western or a Steinbeck Depression story pervades recovering alcoholic Igor Chernevich and son Gleb Puskepalis' odyssey from Moscow to the Crimea. But Chernevich's drunken encounter with hermitic W.C. Fields lookalike Vladimir Kucherenko, and his romance with doctor Agrippina Steklova, feel more like something from a Russian fairy tale, a mood reinforced by Shandor Berkeshi's evocative images of the sprawling countryside and its bleak byways.

Melancholy, ambling, sometimes drunk and evocative, always emotive - everything Russian cinema is good at.