Cargo 200 Alexey Balbanov

Cargo 200 Alexey Balbanov
Set in 1984, in provincial Russia prior to the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., when Gorbachev's efforts to streamline communism proved fallible, as increased media awareness of social injustices left its denizens at an extreme low, Cargo 200 attempts to personify ideological dissonance and exacerbates it through gruesome inhumanities and horror. These incarnations are embodied by Artem (Leonid Gromov), a communist professor of atheism whose car breaks down outside of the home of a rural alcohol bootlegger cum man-of-God named Aleksei (Aleksei Serebryakov). A heated discussion about the probity of their godless nation stops short of blows, as Aleksei's Vietnamese employee (Mikhail Skryabin) manages to repair Artem's car, sending him on his way. Shortly thereafter, capitalist teen Valera (Leonid Bichevin) and his girlfriend Angelika (Agniya Kuznetsova) show up looking for booze, only to get embroiled in a crime at the hands of Zhurov (Aleksei Poluyan), a local police captain whose cold dead stare and sociopathic behaviour embody dominant communist ideologues. When Valera passes out, Zhurov rapes his virgin girlfriend with a bottle and takes her home to his slovenly mother, who lives deluded in front of a TV that endlessly plays mindless government propaganda. Crudely enough, these events are depicted with a black comedy slant that criticizes every party involved for their participation. Even the title, Cargo 200, glibly refers to the term used for the dead bodies of soldiers returning from Afghanistan in little pine boxes, only to be replaced by more faceless young men off to meet their pointless demise. If difficult and nauseating to view, the film is also sharply affecting, wonderfully shot and always engrossing. For the rare crowd that can handle an art house film that isn't afraid to get its hands dirty, Cargo 200 should prove a hit. (Disinformation)