In a backwater fishing village in contemporary Russia, a combative but powerless auto mechanic named Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) has the misfortune to be living on a piece of ground coveted by the town’s corrupt mayor (Roman Madyanov), and bad things happen to him. Welcome to the skeptical, heavily ironic world of writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return), whose forays into the underbelly of the former USSR show us that not much has changed. The screenplay, by Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, is bitter in the extreme, a clockwork exercise in cold-blooded jaundice with menace in every frame. Not the ideal choice for a harmless evening at the movies, but worth the effort for admirers of classic Russian melodrama, with pronounced political overtones (140 min.).
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