Four loosely connected stories set in a small town in Kazakhstan at the beginning of the 90s, a time of transition from the Soviet era to a new state with emotional and economic depression. Each of the four main characters, all of whom are 13 years old, must go through a painful transition.
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Congratulations to Emir Baigazin for this hypnotically beautiful, strange and ultimately moving film which depicts unsettling loneliness, despair, and madness in a bombed-out steppe location - with four boys in an isolated world unable to deal with the life that they have been given.The singing of Gounod's Ave Maria gives us and them the hope, the salvation to keep living. A small masterwork the world should see.
Four stories full of symbolisms and ancestral references poetically woven together and beautifully shot on breathtaking almost lunar looking landscapes of the Kazhakistan's steppe.
The photography is magistral and the whole movie is visually superb. I really really loved it.
The balance between minimalism and symbolism is well struck in the first two stories, whose bare, direct style held my attention. The post-apocalyptic third loses its way in the mines, becoming something more portentously grotesque, while the last stifles Svankmajer by withholding its implied visual conclusion. The four teenagers face their spiritual destinies with tragic gravity, mothers grieving in the background.
Stunning film, with great rigour cinematically and thematically. Every frame is something to behold, and the performance of the boys has the immediacy of Bresson's Mouchette. They are not acting, they are the characters. A filmmaker to follow.
The Wounded Angel takes you on a journey through the life of a boy who acts much older than he is. And he has good reason to, from working jobs to help the family get by to smoking, he acts more like a middle aged man enough that he wants everyone to forget he is a kid. His portrayal is evenhanded and nuanced, bringing a lot of genuineness to the experience. The scenery is unique and rich. A real treat to watch.
There's little I could add that would not repeat most of the praise already given here. Haunting yes. The Wounded Angel sequence deeply disturbing. The final scene a glimmer of hope but then I remember the young man in the final segment revealing the fates of the other boys and realize how false that hope will turn out to be.
The stark atmosphere of TWA is built upon post-industrial (even post-apocalyptic) landscapes, the pace intentionally slow and arduous, the parallel storylines bizarre and wonderful. Thematically, it deals with loss but more so of coping. An extra star for its brooding and lovely cinematography (kudos to Cape and Baigazin).