MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
BEANPOLE (140 minutes)
Forum, August 18, 4pm
Trauma is a normal state of being in postwar Leningrad, so the freakishly tall, pale Iya’s
intermittent spasms – when she freezes, forgets where she is and seemingly can’t breathe – are
accepted by her hospital workmates as no more than an idiosyncrasy.
Then there is one more death: Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) unwittingly suffocates Pasha, the little boy everyone assumes her son, during one of her fits.
Viktoria Miroshnichenko as Iya in Beanpole.Credit:MIFF
Young Russian director Kantemir Balagov is sternly uncompromising in his slow exposition of Iya’s cauterised emotional life, the poisonous social contract in which everything is a negotiation and the legacy of a war in which unspeakable things were done – not least by Iya and Masha, Iya’s wartime comrade and Pasha’s real mother.
At a time when Russia’s elite is keen to rewrite such gruesome slices of the country’s history, Balagov is like a pit bull refusing to let go of the truth.
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