Review: ‘Guidebook’

Opening few minutes of "Guidebook," with its apparent autobiographical material and super-low-budget, cut-up look, suggest the film might emerge as the Eastern European cousin of "Tarnation." Unfortunately, the subsequent 100-odd minutes of fragmentary fictions, documentary scraps and grating noise from helmer Aleksandr Shapiro soon dash hopes.

Opening few minutes of “Guidebook,” with its apparent autobiographical material and super-low-budget, cut-up look, suggest the film might emerge as the Eastern European cousin of “Tarnation.” Unfortunately, the subsequent 100-odd minutes of fragmentary fictions, documentary scraps and grating noise from sophomore Ukrainian helmer Aleksandr Shapiro (“Sikuta”) soon dash hopes as “Guidebook” loses its way in maze of pretension. Adventurous auds and some further fests may respond to the pic’s rarefied appeal, but in B.O. terms, this is a road to nowhere, even locally.

According to press notes, pic offers short “novels” set in and around Kiev, although most viewers at the screening caught lost count and interest by around the sixth or seventh vignette. Among the goings on, Frank and Roger discuss clubbing in an empty football stadium. Later, Roger negotiates with a driver over a taxi fare. Slovenly husband Vitya rails against feminists to his with Masha, while another slightly better-off looking couple scout for a flat. Shapiro abruptly cuts-in archive footage and tedious shots of traffic to build a piecemeal portrait of the city. Sound quality and subtitles’ translation on version caught was quite poor.

Guidebook

Ukraine

Production

A Lazaretty Reproduction production. (International sales: Arthouse Traffic, Kiev, Ukraine.) Produced by Sergey Baranov. Co-producer, Yuriy Bedenko. Directed, written, edited by Aleksandr Shapiro.

Crew

Camera (color, B&W, DigiBeta projection), Pavel Oleksienko; music, Evgeniy Kekukh; production designer, Luchezar Avraamov. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 14, 2005. Russian dialogue. Running time: 108 MIN.

With

Aleksey Gorbunov, Vladimir Gorianskiy, Vitaliy Linetskiy, Georgiy Drozd, Konstantin Shaforenko, Eugenia Gladiy, Alla Sergiyko, Vladimir Yamnenko.
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