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Stars: Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Andris Keyshs, Marina Vasileva

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Get out the black coffee: you'll need patience with this one. After interminable logos, the depressing film opens on two minutes of winter scenes by a lake.

It's seven minutes before anything happens, then we're pitched into the middle of a foul-mouthed row between divorcing parents (Spivak, Rozin), neither of whom wants their 12-year-old son Andrey, known as Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). They hope he goes to boarding school, then into the army. The boy, weeping, hears everything.

Both partners are having affairs and, after two rather unnecessarily protracted sex scenes shot in semi-darkness, we, and they discover that their son has been missing for a disastrous 24 hours.

The consequent hunt for the missing boy forms the core of the somewhat improved second half of the sluggishly-paced film. Decent performances, but resolutely dislikable characters throughout. If this is favourite for the best foreign-language film at the forthcoming Oscars, spare me the competition.

David Quinlan

Russia 2017. UK Distributor: Altitude. Technicolor.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Feb 2018