The Second Circle

Alexander Sokurov’s 1990 Russian feature, in which a young man from Leningrad arrives in a Siberian village to deal with the local bureaucracy and dispose of his father’s corpse. The father was a prison-camp guard, and it’s been suggested that the plot can be read as a parable about Russia before and after glasnost. Some of the slow-as-molasses takes feel so extended that when Sokurov concludes them with rapid lap dissolves the sense of mulish transgression is intensified. (On principle, I prefer Sokurov’s leaden mannerism, with its purity and quirky intransigence, to most of Hollywood, though his spare content causes occasional doubts.) Not an easy experience, but intriguing and provocative. In Russian with subtitles. 92 min. (JR)

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