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SILENT SOULS

SYNOPSIS:
When Miron's (Yuriy Tsurilo) beloved wife Tanya (Yuliya Aug) passes away, he asks his best friend Aist (Igor Sergeev) to go on a journey to return her body to the water in the area where they spent their honeymoon. As they reach the banks of the lake where they will forever part with the body, he realises he wasn't the only one in love with Tanya...

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The soundscape, like musical whale-speak, provides a constant platform for the deliberate and sad mood that makes up Silent Souls, a loving memorial to a region in West Central Russia where eccentric rituals and traditions of the ancient Merja people are fading - but not entirely.

This unique film caresses the audience as it hovers around the recently widowed Miron (Yuriy Tsurilo), whose much younger wife Tanya (Yuliya Aug) has passed away from causes we don't know, nor need to. He asks his best friend Aist (Igor Sergeev) to join him - and no-one else - to share in the simple rituals of death, starting with the washing of the body.

The two men don't speak much, especially Aist, but it's his character who narrates some of the elements, filling us in as if writing his diary. Everything is understated, or even unsaid, as Tanya's final journey takes the men along empty roads in empty landscapes as they head for the lake where they build a funeral pyre before Miron takes the sack of ashes to empty it into the water. The Merja people had always regarded water as some of deity, and Aist's narration provides some light into their customs.

Director Aleksei Fedorchenko lets the camera linger on most scenes well after their functionality has ceased, giving the film a deeply contemplative and visceral tone. That, and Miron's tender love for Tanya mark the film as a romance, but in its own unique way. Simple but not simplistic, Silent Souls resonates like a beautiful bell.

It's not a film for everyone, but it did win the international critics prize at Venice (2010) which is understandable: critics get jaded palates and a film that offers authenticity in a unique setting is always welcome. (Silent Souls also won the Screenplay Award at the 2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards held in Australia each year.)

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SILENT SOULS (M)
(Russia, 2010)

Ovsyanki

CAST: Yuriy Tsurilo, Igor Sergeev, Yuliya Aug, Larisa Damaskina, Olga Dobrina, Viktor Gerrat, Olga Gireva

PRODUCER: Igor Mishin, Mary Nazari

DIRECTOR: Aleksei Fedorchenko

SCRIPT: Denis Osokin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mikhail Krichman

EDITOR: Sergei Ivanov

MUSIC: Andrei Karasjov

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrey Ponkratoy

RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 17, 2012







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