Wilfully obscure but blessedly short arthouse offering "Rough River, Placid Sea" is a slight outing for reputable Kirgiz helmer Marat Sarulu ("My Brother Silk Road"). Shot entirely on monochrome stock, often interestingly composed but eccentrically edited film tells of three brothers in an unidentified Central Asian city at loggerheads with each other in wake of their parents' death.

Wilfully obscure but blessedly short arthouse offering “Rough River, Placid Sea” is a slight outing for reputable Kirgiz helmer Marat Sarulu (“My Brother Silk Road”). Shot entirely on monochrome stock, often interestingly composed but eccentrically edited film tells of three brothers in an unidentified Central Asian city at loggerheads with each other in wake of their parents’ death. Adventurous fests seeking fare from less-exposed national cinemas may want to navigate pic’s waters, but, in terms of B.O., “River” will remain becalmed even at home.

The three unnamed brothers (Rustem Turkbenbayev, Anatoly Pak, Adil Turkbenbayev) wander around various city and suburban locations. Voiceover narration accesses their thoughts, which are mostly a jumble of mixed feelings about each other, memory fragments, and lines of poetry such as (in Russian) “rough river, placid sea.” Core location is a crumbling greenhouse they inherited from their dad, which they wander in and out and even on top of. The youngest (Adil Turkbenbayev) ponders a dream about a photograph of the three of them in happier times. B&W stock sometimes has a sepia cast, sometimes a grey tone, but there’s no telling whether this was intentional.

Rough River, Placid Sea

Kazakhstan

Production

A Firm Kino production. (International sales: Firm Kino, Almaty, Kazakhstan.) Produced by Sain Gabdullin. Directed, written by Marat Sarulu.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Manassbek Musaev, Akylbek Malikov; editor, Natalya Vavilkina; music, Aleksandr Yurtaev, Baktybek Alisherov; art director, Bakir Dzhusupbekov. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West), July 7, 2005. Original title: Burnaya Reka, bezmyatezhnoe more. Russian dialogue. Running time: 60 MIN.

With

Rustem Turkbenbayev, Anatoly Pak, Adil Turkbenbayev.
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