MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
BEANPOLE (140 minutes)
Forum, August 18, 4pm
Trauma is a normal state of being in postwar Leningrad, so the freakishly tall, pale Iya’s
intermittent spasms – when she freezes, forgets where she is and seemingly can’t breathe – are
accepted by her hospital workmates as no more than an idiosyncrasy.
Then there is one more death: Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) unwittingly suffocates Pasha, the little boy everyone assumes her son, during one of her fits.
Young Russian director Kantemir Balagov is sternly uncompromising in his slow exposition of Iya’s cauterised emotional life, the poisonous social contract in which everything is a negotiation and the legacy of a war in which unspeakable things were done – not least by Iya and Masha, Iya’s wartime comrade and Pasha’s real mother.
At a time when Russia’s elite is keen to rewrite such gruesome slices of the country’s history, Balagov is like a pit bull refusing to let go of the truth.