Complete A-Z list

How I Ended This Summer


Stars: Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis

Director: Alexei Popogrebsky

Or: how to make a mountain out of a molehill (or a glacier out of an ice floe). We've all heard of long shots in races and long shots in movies. But this Russian drama, which inexplicably won top prize at last year's London Film Festival, has another kind: shots of the same thing that go on for 10, 20, even 40 seconds at a time, especially scenes of lone figures walking through a desolate landscape, which are held for ages, until we ache for something to happen.

The plot, which would seem stretched even at an hour, concerns an isolated Arctic weather station, manned by middle-aged Sergei (Puskepalis) and college graduate Pasha (the Bogarde-like Dobrygin). It's obvious from the start that the two don't get on, with Sergei browbeating the younger man, who cuts corners, betrays his inexperience and prefers his video games.

When Sergei goes off on a fishing expedition , Pasha receives some distressing news about the older man's family. Strangely, but then the whole film turns on it , he does not tell Sergei immediately on his return. The two then quarrel, not least because Pasha has overslept and falsified readings - and the younger man decides to withhold the information permanently.

When the truth does come out, there's a massive confrontation between the two, which does raise a little tension, although overall the film has as much impact as a slap in the face with one of the wet fish Sergei brings back from his trip. There is, however, a certain bleak beauty to the film which makes the Arctic look more hospitable than it probably is.

David Quinlan

Russia 2008. UK Distributor: New Wave Films. Colour.
130 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 21 Apr 2011