kenPbowes’s review published on Letterboxd:
It was only after I saw this that fireworks started blasting my memory, reminding me that I'd previously seen Director Kantemir Balagov's previous Closeness (2017) @ MIFF2017...
& what my reaction to that vile, needless & of-no-context-whatsoever Snuff scene had been.
Most importantly, I was pleased to see that this very young Director has clearly matured & realised that a movie doesn't need puerile penis-measuring stunts to be memorable.
Like Closeness, Beanpole has its incredibly tough watching moments - usually centred around characters with a cruel determination to bluntly get what they clearly feel they're entitled to.
Couple that with an over-riding bleakness, reflecting the mood & season - yet it's not suffocating, & the movie is, quite deliberately, visually beautiful.
Onscreen , there's also some incredibly dark humor, notably an early courtship scene with perhaps the most cover-your-eyes back-seat sex ever filmed, but especially later, when the rich mother, Lyubov (masterfully played by Kseniya Kutepova) is given screen time with some great lines & who I enjoyed enormously ...
... & offscreen there was also some wonderful darkness being played out in the audience, involving mothers -
about an hour into the movie, 2 women made a darkened entrance with their teen daughters. There was obvious friction - I'd love to think it was related to the mothers being as well dressed as their daughters weren't.
So when the older women sat down, the teens bolted upwards to seats further back.
And because the older women couldn't respond without upsetting the movie watchers, the teens strategy gave them that win.
However just as the girl-on-girl love-scenes onscreen were becoming perhaps a little racey, so was the motherly concern about it in front of us.
What started as the older women firstly looking (angrily) to see if there was any reaction from the teens (I can only hope one teen flipped her mother the bird!), then reached a boiling point just as it was on screen, & the older women rounded up the obviously pissed-off teens & departed in a hurried & irate state.
I admit it ... I live for this shit!