How I Ended This Summer Alexei Popogrebsky

How I Ended This Summer Alexei Popogrebsky
In documentary series Mars Rising, which detailed conceptual analysis and probable methodology for a space mission to Mars and back, the biggest practical obstacle beyond ship construction and weight of materials for transport was that of human psychology: How will people cope when isolated and confined for a protracted period? How I Ended This Summer tackles this subject, using a far removed Russian Meteorological telemetry test site in the Arctic Circle as a breeding ground for paranoia, anxiety and manipulation for two men – the experienced Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis) and university student Pavel (Grigory Dobrygin) – working together for the summer with only MP3 players, an expansive winter landscape and the occasional transmission of data to break up the silence. Building slowly to ensure adequate and contemplative coverage of a quiet, self-sustained quotidian, Alexei Popgrebsky's gorgeously photographed psychological thriller gives a sense of imbalance and passive intimidation between the two men, leading up to the central plot catalyst. While Sergei is off fishing, Pavel receives a transmission from the mainland stating that his partner's wife and son have died in an accident. Afraid of how Sergei might react to the news while removed from social order, Pavel hides this information, devolving into a jittery, unstable mess, which creates a consistent sense of unease and suspense for the last half of the film while the men are at odds. Because the tone and pacing of this thought-provoking and intense Russian thriller are so deliberate and consistent throughout, there is an unnerving sense of unpredictability and realism. We're never quite sure of what will happen and the stationary observation of a gradual mental breakdown refrains from traditional modes of cinematic conflict, concerned more so with detailing how people would behave in a given situation without undue exposition. Even though it takes some time to get moving, this impressive Russian import holds up as a smart, unconventional nail-biter if given a bit of patience and investment. And since this is a Film Movement release, short film First Day of Peace, directed by Mirko Ruchnov, is included with the DVD, giving a slightly exaggerated and sarcastic glimpse at the idea of peace on the disputed Bosnian border. (Film Movement)