In Moscow a hooker, who turns out to be one of quadruplets, a piano tuner and a meat buyer tell their stories, occasionally true, in a bar late one night.
Cross Peter Greenaway with Dostoevsky and you get a vague idea of what to expect from Ilya Khrzhanovsky's striking debut. But this is the only clue you'll get about the themes and symbols unifying this sombre study of Putin's Russia, for nothing is as it seems in the worlds of Muscovite hooker Marina Vovchenko, piano tuner Sergei Shnurov and meat buyer Yuri Laguta - and the truth is even more baffling. So rather than seek meaning in Vovchenko's rural encounter with some doll-sewing crones, Shnurov's incarceration and Laguta's pursuit of round piglets, surrender to Kirill Vasilenko’s ominously cacophonous soundtrack and the endless sets of four that recur throughout these eccentric, absurdist and disturbing notes from the underground, which, fittingly, took four years to complete and went through a mere three cinematographers.
A film to experience rather than understand, this bleak blend of Dostoevsky and Peter Greenaway will fascinate those prepared to surrender to its macabre absurdism.
Reviewed by David Parkinson