An unloved wife finds her colorless world turning remarkably brighter after her husband suddenly expires in this graceful look at a woman’s midlife awakening, which took grand prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. Plucked from an orphanage as a literal love slave, the now adult Natalija (a luminous Kseniya Kutepova) serves her ape-like husband by tending his prized cow—whose milk they sell to customers on passing trains. When hubby suddenly drops dead, however, Natalija’s narrow life of cows and rails finally starts opening up. Dumping his body at the local hospital, dropping by church to say a few prayers and trading in the cow for a pet goat, she slowly eliminates all trace of his former hold on her, searching out a new life in the freedom that emerges. Former actress Vera Storozheva (a frequent collaborator with famed filmmaker Kira Muratova) shows considerable skill as director, echoing Natalija’s awakening in a soundtrack that leaves the creaks and disordered noises of a mechanical environment for a more harmonious and natural one, and in cinematographer Oleg Lukichev’s remarkable images, whose drab winter grays give way to a vibrant springtime palette. But it’s Kutepova as Natalija who truly puts the spark in this invigorating example of feminist cinema. Resembling a young Tilda Swinton in both appearance and aura, Kutepova brings an unspoken intelligence and warmth to a woman whose heart is finally awakening and whose mind has never been freer.
Sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Fairmont.
Official Website: http://fest08.sffs.org/films/film_details.php?id=89
Added by coda on April 29, 2008