Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Sergei Loban: Dust - Пыль (2005)

Dust, Russia, 2005
Color, 107 minutes
Director: Sergei Loban
Screenplay: Marina Potapova
Cinematography: Dmitrii Model'
Music: Pavel Shevchenko
Cast: Aleksei Podol'skii, Gleb Mikhailov, Petr Mamonov, Larisa Piatnitskaia, Nina Elisova, Psoi Korolenko, Dmitrii Pimenov, Aleksei Ageev
Producer: Mikhail Sinev
Production: SVOI 2000

An independent, small-budget (no-budget, to be precise) film shot on digital camera, Dust seemed an unlikely candidate for any recognition amidst the bombast of such new Russian “blockbusters” as The Turkish Gambit (Dzhanik Faiziev, 2005) and Company 9 (Fedor Bondarchuk, 2005). Nonetheless, upon its release in June 2005 Loban’s film immediately raked in a dozen enthusiastic reviews by major Russian film critics, who repeatedly called this modest film a sign of a new direction in Russian cinema. Screened in the “Perspectives” program at the Moscow Film Festival, [1] Dust received a diploma of the Jury of Russian Film Critics for the “experiment on the body of the hero and on the language of cinema.” While the second part of this peculiar citation is expected praise for an independent production, the first part has to do with the script. The plot is simple, clever, and—to avoid the tired imprecision of the word “topical”—contemporary.

The hero of Dust is Lesha Sergeev (Aleksei Podol'skii), an obese 24-year old man, balding and myopic, who lives with his grandmother. This intelligentnaia woman monitors every aspect of Lesha’s life, from the intake of proteins and glucose (franks and sugar-loaded tea for breakfast) to suitable leisure (making model airplanes) to an appropriate outfit (an oversized T-shirt with a kitten print, purchased in a second-hand store). For the duration of the film, Lesha’s amorphous body will be draped in this “unisex” monstrosity, exchanged for female clothing at the film’s end. This expository part of the film is a small masterpiece of acting, editing, and mise-en-scène. Unpretentious and unsentimental, the sequence has Lesha’s entire life laid out with an unerring feel for turn-of-the-millennium Russia: a fully internalized sense of alienation from “reality.” Lesha’s face, torso, hands, and even the kitten on his T-shirt, magnified and distorted by close-ups, all articulate dejected bewilderment. ...Review by Elena Prokhorova here.

Review by By Sergey Chernov here.

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