On a bus in a small snow covered town, a young man is listening to Schubert’s Winterraise on his headphones. The music and his thoughts are interrupted by a scuffle that develops behind him. A boy in red pants picks a fight, and the driver stops the bus and calls the police. When the policemen arrive the guy in the red pants tries to disguise himself by stealing the protagonist’s headphones and pretending to listen to the music. But the cops catch him, and as he is taken to the police station he loses a lizard shaped keychain. The keychain is collected by our silent protagonist. We discover his name is Eric — a talented but introverted 21 year old opera singer. His life was for a moment crossed with that of Lyokha, the young man taken away by the authorities, but that moment was enough to change their lives forever. From that moment on, the lives of Eric and Lyokha are intertwined. Eric seems to fall in love with the tramp, and enters a world of shoplifting, scattering his talent for lack of will and courage, whereas Lyokha enters a more secure world, with hot meals and relative safety. During three days, their lives merge, and each of them gets a glimpse of the world of the other, remaining marked and changed forever. But one thing unites them: the loneliness.
Winter Journey (Zimniy put), Sergey Taramaev and Luba Lvova debut film, is inspired by Schubert’s song cycle Winterraise, and the sad notes emphasize the central themes of the film. The film takes on the tone of the cold and desolate landscapes where the two protagonists move, but is heated from time to time by the melodies of Winterraise that ignites the emotion of a story told in a deliberately aloof manner, so as not to tie the viewer to the fate of the two boys . Shortly before the end, during the sequence in the nightclub where Lyokha consumes drugs, the brutal inconsistency of the visual language (swaying between naturalistic and almost psychedelic) shows the inexperience of the filmmakers and their desire to overdo, which is typical of first films. Moreover, Winter Journey looks too thematic, as the authors desire to illustrate their thoughts about loneliness and existential unhappiness in a manner that makes the film too schematic to come to life and ignite passion. However, the two lead actors, especially Alexei Frandetti in the role of Lyokha, are good, portraying heartfelt characterizations of two very different tragic men.
Edited by Yael Shuv
© FIPRESCI 2014