Marina, an upper-crust social worker with a doting husband and an enviable downtown apartment, is suddenly transformed into a bizarre twilight version of herself when she is raped by three policemen.
Sharing writing credits with leading lady and co-producer Olga Dihovichnaya, rookie director Angelina Nikonova delivers a movie stripped of whatever ostentatious displays of sensitivity you might expect from its unsavoury premise. What you get with Twilight Portrait is chilling subject matter handled with a cool sobriety that none of Nikonova’s dazed characters seem to share.
Marina (Dihovichnaya) is a gorgeous upper-crust Muscovite with an opulent wardrobe and good-looking husband to match. She’s employed as a social worker, a profession offering meager financial rewards. Thankfully her affluent father provides the supplementary income her job — and her hapless husband — cannot. Yet instead of finding contentment in her win-win situation, Marina carries on an affair with her best friend’s husband, and also initiates a bizarre series of erotic encounters with a deadbeat cop who previously raped her.
After the incident during which Marina is brutally assaulted, we never see her in the light of day again. It is here that Nikonova’s film most reflects its title, unfolding as a series of portraits: Marina pigging out in a bizarre Russian variation on the greasy spoon; Marina lurking in the shadows behind Andrei, the crooked police officer; Marina falling asleep on a bench in Andrei’s neighbourhood park; Marina cooking him pork chops and scrubbing his bathtub. Equal parts victim and victimizer, Marina is among the most weirdly fascinating female screen characters in memory. The fact that she remains inscrutable until the end only makes you want to get to know her more. She is a truly dark variation on the European femme fatale. –TIFF
A roundup for the closing weekend.
Seven films from around the world are lined up to screen in New York from March 21 through April 1.
Now that this little gem (or is it even in fact a “gem”) is finally starting to get more screenings in the U.S. (New Directors/New Films) I figured I’d review it for you guys since already I saw it… read review