Thursday, 2 July 2015

Andrey Proshkin: Orleans - Орлеан (2015)

Orleans (2015)

Director: Andrey Proshkin
Writer: Yuriy Arabov
Stars: Nikolai Karpenko, Vitaliy Khaev, Artyom Kobzev,Yelena Lyadova,

Orleans is a sonorous name of a dusty concrete backwater Russian town; it should come as no surprise, though, as there are villages scattered across Russia that are called, for example, Paris (such a village exists in practically every region, and there’s indeed Orleans in the Altai mountains). The name “Orleans” is more widely known as part of “New Orleans”, because of the 2005 hurricane that looked like an almost Biblical punishment – which corresponds to apocalyptic ending of Andrei Proshkin’s film. One can’t help thinking of Babylon (“Alas! alas! that great city, Babylon, that mighty city”); covered in ashes Sodom and Gomorrah (there are ashes in “Orleans” too, although of a different origin) go without saying. An almost Biblical – or anti-Biblical – story is closely intertwined here with the esthetics of poor apartment blocks, dilapidated hospitals and police stations – basically, with everything that stopped being mere decorations and became part of the very language of the new Russian cinema.

Orleans (2015)

The thing our “new wave” representatives have in common is not only this language but also the idea that absurd, grotesque and buffoonery correspond to the Russian reality, and there’s no need to look for boring, realistic plot to express the “Zeitgeist”, hits its very nerve. Aleksey Balabanov became one of the pioneers who created the bridge between what esthetes tend to call “trash” – and stylistically opposite films that convey the same message. In this context it becomes especially symbolic that Executor in “Orleans” is played by Viktor Sukhorukov – one of Balabanov’s favourite actors. Another person who “made” “Orleans” is Oleg Yagodin. He can certainly be called this year’s discovery of the Russian cinema. However, he’s already quite well-known as a theatre actor, and in 2009 the French newspaper “Le Monde” called Yagodin “an actor who Luchino Visconti would have kidnapped without thinking twice to film him in his “The Damned” if the two had been contemporaries”. However, Yagodin was “kidnapped” much later – and brought straight to the town Orleans, where his character, a doctor, together with his fellow losers, a cop and a hairdresser, becomes an object of particular interest of a prophet, who might as well be Antichrist or personified conscience. Read more >>>