Aleksei Fedorchenko's SILENT SOULS is a breath-takingly brilliant movie. Miron (Yuriy Tsurilo) is burying his wife Tanya (Yuliya Aug) with the help of his employee and friend Aist (Igor Sergeyev). He is doing so according to the mystical funeral rites of the Merjan people, a Finnish ethnic group based in Western Russia. As he does so, Miron shows us his love for Tanya, taking us into the intimate details of their lives together. And Aist, in his beautiful narration, gives us a heart-felt lament not just for a love that no longer exists, but for a culture and ethnicity that no longer exists. It's as though, in committing Tanya to the water, they are saying goodbye to the Merjan culture itself.
The movie is quiet, melancholy and beautiful. Cinematographer Mikhail Krichman uses CinemaScope to immerse us in the landscape and Andrei Karasyov's score centres us in the folk music of the area.There are many scenes that feel strange and surreal. The overall effect is one of a hypnotic lament. I often find it hard to describe films that I have a strong emotional reaction to - to break down exactly why I love a film so much. It's far easier to criticise. So all I can do is exhort you to see this film - and if possible on a big screen. It's truly a pantheon film of the future.
Additional tags: Aleksei Fedorchenko, Denis Osokin, Yuliya Aug, Igor Sergeyev, Vikto Sukhurukov, Yuriy Tsurilo, Andrew Karasyov, Mikhail Krichman, Sergei Ivanov
SILENT SOULS played Venice 2010. It does not have a commercial release date yet.