Silent Souls | Chicago Reader

Silent Souls

Part road movie, part ethnography, this compact drama by Russian filmmaker Aleksei Fedorchenko (First on the Moon) depicts a modern descendant of the Merja people (a Finno-Ugric tribe whose culture can be traced back to the sixth century) as he helps transport the corpse of a friend's wife in order to fulfill an ancient death ritual. This rite is hardly despairing—for instance, a Merjan widower is to memorialize his spouse by telling friends about her sexual proclivities—and neither is Fedorchenko's approach. Rife with earthy details and poetic associations, the movie often advances like a daydream. The stark locations in central Russia are rendered even more forbidding through sparse widescreen compositions, yet these reinforce the central theme of learning to abandon gracefully one's material existence. In Russian with subtitles.

Credits

Director:

  • Aleksei Fedorchenko

Cast:

  • Igor Sergeyev
  • Viktor Sukhorukov
  • Yuliya Aug
  • Yuriy Tsurilo

Producers:

  • Igor Mishin
  • Mary Nazari

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