VIFF’s review published on Letterboxd:
Lyuda (Julia Vysotskaya) is a mid-level Communist Party official in the industrial town of Novocherkassk, western Russia. The year is 1962, and food shortages, price hikes and wage cuts are fuelling unrest, but Lyuda remains a staunch believer - even if she’s not above accepting the under the counter benefits that come with her position. But when the local factory goes out on strike, the authorities send in the Red Army and the KGB. In the ensuing chaos dozens of citizens are shot - and Lyuda’s teenage daughter goes missing. Distraught, she searches the hospital and the morgue, putting everything on the line as the cover-up goes into effect…
Based on a real historical atrocity (though the cover up did its job), this is an impressive and searing piece of work from veteran filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky (Sin; Paradise; Siberiade). Evoking the post-Stalinist era through steely black and white, the film takes place over the course of just a couple of days, but serves to delineate multiple flaws in the Soviet system, rather like the hit TV series Chernobyl. The tensions between Communist ideals and the corruption and universal suspicion engendered by the single party State are embodied in the sympathetic figure of Lyuda, who is forced to reconsider beliefs that are not only deeply instilled, but which helped her survive the horrors of WWII… It’s a stunning performance from Julia Vysotskaya (who also happens to be Konchalovsky’s wife).
Available to stream on VIFF Connect starting Dec 24 and opening Dec 29 at the VIFF Centre http://goviff.org/best-of-2021-dear-comrades.