Screening as part of The Russian Resurrection Film Festival touring around Australia
Russian cinema is virgin territory for me. I take no pride in saying this but I’ve never seen a Russian film before in my life. I haven’t avoided it, not at all; I’ve just never been presented with it before as an option. Russian literature has weaved its way through my life for various reasons but cinema has yet to have the same devastating effect, both personally and culturally.The Russian Resurrection Film Festival is currently making its way through Australia and it’s showing a high class of film, both contemporary and classic. I’ve been privileged enough to see a few of these films but there’s one in particular I want to talk about and it’s called Home (Dom, if you’re Russian).
(Fair warning though, if you’re faint of heart you may want to skip it. There’s violence and not solely in the bloody sense – women get slapped around too. I’m not going to condone its presence but given the context of sheer desperation it doesn’t seem so out of place.)
We’re introduced to the Shamanov family. A group of stubborn bastards, they’re meeting to celebrate their borderline-vegetable grandfather’s 100th birthday. He’s a heavily decorated war hero and manages to incite fear into all of them despite being a mute that communicates via tapping his cane against the dusty wooden floor. Here we come across an adulterous wife bored of her short marriage, a father struggling to get respect from any of his sons and a housewife desperate for her husband to beat up his own father in order to get his own idea of respect. It’s an ugly little unit and the end result for every dysfunctional American sitcom family pushed to absolute extremes.
There’s a few shades of Red State here, Kevin Smith’s violent outburst at all things cult. This isn’t to suggest it borrows any moments but rather shares themes – the importance of family, the home as a compound, the role of violence as a means of control and understanding.
It’s the violence that is integral to the story here. Without it, men would be controlled by their wives and then they’d have no place in the home. It’s a bonding tool between brothers and enemies and a means to validate oneself. This is all just hearsay of course but it would be hard to imagine them seeing a peaceful environment as nothing more than being a walking cock. All of it is an by-product of masculinity and what they believe takes to be a man. How accurate that is however, that’s up to you, given the desperate circumstance all of them are facing.
One of the brothers that does come back, and I’m going to spoil it a little bit, is a mafia man who is on the run. It’s not made abundantly clear what or why he’s running away from it all but it doesn’t matter. There’s a clock ticking over the whole film and I couldn’t turn away from it.
Of course, the film does falter now and then but it’s mostly for technical reasons. I hope my copy was different to the final film as the green screen moments faltered heavily and I’m not sure if this was due to a bad disc rip. The subtitles also suffered occasionally with poor spelling and grammar for us English speakers. And the law of physics was broken a few times at the end but I was too shocked to really care. The very end though was astounding and I’m glad the filmmakers didn’t chance for a Hollywood ending because it’s so desolate and empty that you’re left wondering what’s next.
It’s a great film that’s open for action and drama fans, as broad a spectrum as that may be. Forget your standard b-grade fare and check out this clever Russian piece – it has more intelligence and great storytelling than most of the films you wanted to see anyway.
Nicholas Brodie - follow Nick on Twitter here: @fodusempire
Director: Oleg Pogodin
Writer: Oleg Pogodin
Starring: Sergey Garmash, Bogdan Stupka, Vladimir Epifantsev