Like her accomplice Kantemir Balagov’s 2019 film Beanpole, there’s an uncanny claustrophobic cost to Kira Kovalenko’s household drama, although it lastly exhales an equally highly effective sigh of self-redemption. Milana Aguzarova stars as Ada, a younger girl in a North Ossetian mining city trapped by her ailing and possessive father Zaur (Alik Karaev). He guards the one entrance door key, letting her and her siblings out when he chooses, and refuses to let her have an operation to right accidents sustained throughout a college hostage-taking that imply she has to put on an incontinence nappy.
Ada’s brother Akim (Soslan Khugaev) comes dwelling from town of Rostov and appears to have the self-possession and ethical compass Zaur doesn’t. He guarantees to get her the therapy she wants – and a shot at romance with native chancer Tamik (Arsen Khetagurov), who has been hovering. However there’s an unsettling ambivalence to his assist, expressed of their fraught confrontations and intense embraces; an incestuous undertone that youthful brother Dakko (Khetag Bibilov), who tries to climb into Ada’s mattress like a small baby, can also be topic to.
It’s tempting – particularly with the obvious reference to the Beslan school siege – to see the movie as some type of allegory for patriarchal and poisoned Russian society, however that underestimates its sturdy emotional constancy to its characters on their very own phrases. They’re regularly cuddling, tussling, grappling – and Kovalenko stays in shut proximity all the higher to make us really feel this centripetal stress Ada needs to flee. This in-your-face physicality has echoes of Russian traditional Come and See. However right here it’s offset with black humour, as when Zaur, making an attempt to return Ada’s passport, has a seizure meaning he actually can’t let go of her.
Aguzarova is quietly phenomenal, by no means extra so than within the intercourse scene the place, holding her curled-up arms away from Tamik’s physique, she manages to be coy, conflicted, indifferent, expectant and amused unexpectedly. Like the remainder of this touching movie, it’s snug with letting trauma and tenderness coexist.