No act of kindness goes unpunished in the unrelentingly grim Russian drama “Reverse Motion.” When a mother takes in a neglected Tajik boy, her own son returns home from war, creating friction. One of those arthouse films in which shots of nothing happening last for ages and no one smiles until 45 minutes into the action, “Reverse” will be lucky to gain momentum outside the fest circuit, and even there its progress will be slow.
Opening sequence observes a soldier (Vladislav Abashin) being killed in action, it seems, while fighting in a dusty, unnamed battle zone. Back in his provincial hometown, his mother, Alla (stony-featured Olga Demidova), has nearly given up hope he will be found. Shocked that a neighbor (Darya Gracheva ) has been employing a 10-year-old Tajik boy (Georgi Gatsoev) with an injured arm as a worker, Alla takes him in. But suddenly, her real son comes home, and he’s none too thrilled to be sharing his mom. Plus, some gangsters want the kid back. Last reel suddenly morphs into revenge-tragedy territory; until that point, helmer Andrei Stempkovsky’s debut has some integrity, but it’s a real slog.