Produced by Leonid Yarmolnik, Stanislav Arkhipov. Co-producers, Viktor Izvekov, Rolf Jaster.
Directed by Valeri Ogorodnikov. Screenplay, Viktor Petrov, Ogorodnikov, based on the novel “Olga Ledokhov” by Petrov. Camera (color), Yuri Klimenko, Anatoli Lapshov; editor, Galina Tanayeva; music, works by Faure; musical director, Vladimir Shulyakovsky; art director, Yuri Zaytsev. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 8, 1999. Original title: Barak. Running time: 116 MIN.
With: Irina Senotova, Yulia Svezhakova, Yevgeni Sidikhin, Nina Usatova, Sergei Kachanov, Natalya Egorova, Leonid Yarmolnik, Artyom Gusev, Dmitri Bulba, Alexei Devochenko, Andreas Dilschneider.
Russian helmer Valeri Ogorodnikov returns with his first feature in eight years, an initially chaotic but finally affecting multi-character drama set during Stalinism’s sundown. Though “Barracks” won’t march far beyond festivals, Ogorodnikov’s fourth pic does deliver something for auds with time to spare.
It is, however, one of those movies in which you need to hack through the jungle to get the view from the mountain. Completely unbackgrounded, first hour is a confusing jumble of colorful Russians shoehorned together in a former army barracks in Satka, south of the Urals, during 1953, when memories of the war were still strong. Latest to arrive is Olga, an educated woman from Leningrad, who attracts the attention of Alexei, a strapping militia man; other protags include a fat Ukrainian and her Tatar companion, a one-legged Jewish vodka smuggler, a former German soldier and an alcoholic dove-breeder. Characterization is as fruity as the lensing, which hops from B&W through sepia to faux-faded Sovcolor; on other occasions, red is highlighted in the frame. Following an epic party halfway, pic reins back, developing characters beyond Slavic stereotypes and building to a warm portrait of community.