A Place on Earth

This grim depiction of life in a present-day Moscow commune is a downer. Grainy black-and-white images of unsanitary conditions in which men, women, children and animals live crammed together depict a world of despair and hopelessness, yet these contempo hippies seem to believe that their way of living is preferable.

With:
With: Anna Verdi, Vitaly Khaev, Roman Atlasov.

This relentlessly grim depiction of life in a present-day Moscow commune is a downer all the way. Grainy black-and-white images of unsanitary conditions in which men, women, children and animals live crammed together depict a world of despair and hopelessness. And yet these contempo hippies seem to believe that their way of living is preferable. Commercial prospects are almost non-existent, but some fests may swallow the bait.

This motley bunch seems to have wound up living in these wretched conditions because of a mixture of idealism and abject poverty. Their leader decrees that the (mostly attractive) women should sleep with the men. However, one jealous character castrates himself when his woman departs from the house, resulting in a protracted sequence of screaming and blood-letting, watched by small children. Occasionally, police raid the place, looking for drugs, and abusing the inhabitants. In a scene of genuine horror, a clearly deranged man lies down on top of a baby, smothering it. Nudity abounds, but there’s nothing vicarious about the film; however, it is hard to endure (especially at a running time of over two hours) the hopeless plight of these Russian outcasts.

A Place on Earth

Russia

Production: An ABA Studio-Ministry of Culture (Russia) production. (International sales: Ministry of Culture, Moscow.) Produced by Boris Ajrapetyan. Directed by Artur Aristakisjan. Screenplay, Aristakisjan, Irina Shubina.

Crew: Camera (B&W), Grigory Yablochnikov; editor, Nataliya Topkova; music, Robert Wyatt. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight), May 20, 2001. Running time: 126 MIN.

With: With: Anna Verdi, Vitaly Khaev, Roman Atlasov.

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