DRAMA; 2hr 4min (Russian with subtitles)
STARRING: Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis
Chilling out: Dobrygin
The Arctic chill seeps off the screen and into your bones in writer-director Alexei Popogrebsky’s reflective exploration of the boundaries of reality. It’s an unyielding backdrop to the spartan daily routines of Pavel — “Pasha” — and Sergei (Dobrygin and Puskepalis) on an island weather station, where even the summers come with an icy bite.
The two men have nothing in common: the more cerebral Pasha is into his iPod and computer games while Sergei is brusque, older and a long-term Arctic Circle traditionalist. Then the intimidated Pasha receives word that Sergei’s wife and son are dead following an accident and can’t bring himself to pass the message on. His vain hope seems to be that someone else will do it for him — in any event, he’s playing a fool’s game.
How I Ended This Summer is a long, slow dance of possibilities, light on dialogue and heavy on atmosphere and implication. Its emotional centre is the enigmatic Pasha, who, by taking matters into his own irresponsible hands, triggers the chaotic karmic reckoning that tragedies are made of.