Beanpole ★★★★½

Extraordinary. I never doubted Kantemir Balagov’s talent since watching Closeness, but this takes it to another level. Beanpole is as much about post-war trauma as it is a meticulously crafted and achingly bleak study of female disenfranchisement, the loneliness of war, and the levels those desperate enough will stoop to in order to reclaim some semblance of calm and normalcy. Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina are astounding as the film’s two lead actresses, delivering performances so heartbreaking that I feared for their psychological safety. Kseniya Sereda’s bitterly resplendent cinematography dances with the stiff and paralysing soundtrack by Evgueni Galperine; what lends Beanpole its appeal is the seeming universality of its experience — the ruins of Leningrad befit any other city shattered by the onslaught of chaos. Exceptional; one of 2019’s very best.

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