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Kantemir Balagov · Russia · 2020 · 130 mins · NR · Russian with Subtitles
Awards IMDb84 --A Certified Metacritic Must See!91%
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Winner: Best Director-Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival

Set in Leningrad in the fall of 1945, following the end of the war, Beanpole considers the fraught relationship between the titular Iya (newcomer Viktoria Miroshnichenko, a singular presence), and Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina, a similarly beguiling newcomer), both of whom were among the 800,000 women who served in the Soviet Armed Forces during World War II. 

The story is compounded by director Kantemir Balagov's imposing visual aesthetic, which was evident in his debut feature Closeness but here is on a whole new level. The striking mise-en-scène features intimate handheld camerawork, sullen long takes, bold lighting, and bright, painterly colors, specifically red (which signifies blood and death) and green (which signifies life). But above these aspects, it is most admirable how Balagov captures the characters' physicality. More minute actions, like Iya's hands on a dying soldier's neck or Masha's elusive smiles, often framed in visceral close-up, draw one into the intimacies of their being; that both women are played by first-time actresses is extraordinary.

“Ferocious and extraordinary. You often have to remind yourself to breathe.”Variety

"Achingly beautiful. Extraordinary performances and Roma-level production design elevate a brutal yet tender story”Indiewire

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