A young man's bad luck gets progressively worse in the ironically titled "Sunny Days," Kazak writer-helmer Nariman Turebaev's sometimes droll, occasionally sad but ultimately disappointing follow-up to his debut feature, "Little Men."

A young man’s bad luck gets progressively worse in the ironically titled “Sunny Days,” Kazak writer-helmer Nariman Turebaev’s sometimes droll, occasionally sad but ultimately disappointing follow-up to his debut feature, “Little Men.” Reminiscent in a multitude of ways of Aki Kaurismaki’s films, pic ultimately serves to illustrate what a tough act Kaurismaki is to follow, especially if you’re shooting on digital and lack his gifts as a storyteller and craftsman. Still, partly due to its European arthouse flavor, “Sunny Days” ought to see some light at further fests.

Pic’s nameless protagonist (handsome but resolutely deadpan Erlan Utepbergenov) is down to his last few tenges and some change, and will be evicted from his crummy apartment if he doesn’t come up with the rent by the end of the week. He tries various schemes to raise coin (taxi driving, selling his possessions on the street), but everything ends disastrously. Despite its depressing trajectory, pic has wry moments of humor, and makes the Kazakh capital look positively romantic with its melancholy bars, wide streets and thin winter light, but the script lacks sufficient dimensionality to deliver the proper punch.

Sunny Days

Kazakhstan

Production

A JSC Kazakhfilm in the Name of Shaken Aimanov presentation, in association with the Culture and Information Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kadam Studio, Hubert Bals Fund, Film Festival Locarno Open Doors Selection, Visions Sud-Est. (International sales: JSC Kazakhfilm, Almaty, Kazakhstan.) Produced by Limara Zheksembaeva. Directed, written by Nariman Turebaev.

Crew

Camera (color), Boris Troshev; editor, Aizhan Bisimbinova; music, Anuar Baimuratov; production designer, Aleksei Filimonov. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Cinema of the Present), Aug. 10, 2011.Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Erlan Utepbergenov, Inkar Abdrash, Asel Kalieva, Dmitri Skirta, Gulzhan Kalibaeva, Yuri Radin. (Russian, Kazak dialogue)
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