Magical Storytelling and Great Cinematography,
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 11/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the shivering cold climate of Northern Armenia is a small Kurdish village whose economy is negatively impacted by the break up of the Soviet Union. In this film, the viewer vicariousluy experiences village life in this remote part of the world. The film reveals how human beings overcome adversity and create meaningful lives. The film is a testament to the Kurds and Armenian people whose spirit and love of life is shown in its best light, even in this harsh climate and despite serious economic disadvantages. The characters are phenomenal. Hamo is a grandfather-like wirey muscular man with white hair. He often visits his deceased wife at the cemetery. It is noted that people often carry folded stools which they use at the bus stop (if there is no bench) or to sit on at the graveside. It is a customary in the region to speak to the dead as if they are still among us. Hamo tells her their son Kamo lives in Alfortville, France and is doing well (not entirely true, as he has no job yet). Weekly when he takes the bus to the cemetery, he sees the beautiful widow, Nina, who makes the same trip to the same place. She visits her deceased husband. Hamo notices she does not pay the busfare and the bus driver gives her credit until she can afford to pay. The bus driver plays a romantic French cassette almost each time as the two lone passengers ride to their destination ...
Hamo receives a short letter from his son who sends a photo of himself and his new French girlfriend. Hamo had expected him to send money. Money is in short supply. The Soviet Union had provided gas, electricity and other necessities to the village free or at nominal cost but now the villagers must fully pay for these commodities. There is no industry. Most of the villagers tend sheep or travel to a larger town or city to work ... Hamo talks to a portrait of his wife and explains he will have to sell a wardrobe (cabinet) to make some money. He takes the item on his back and parks it out on the main road. A married couple who passby inquire about its price for their daughter who is getting married. Negotiations begin and they haggle back and forth until a price is agreed upon. Hamo ends up selling a television set and also an old Army uniform to get more money. He has plans to win over Nina and also there is the wedding of his granddaughter ...
Nina has a job selling "Vodka Lemon" which is a bottled drink sold at a kiosk, a refreshment stand, near the main highway. Unfortunately business is not good and toward the end of the film, the owner closes the business entirely citing lack of customers. She has a daughter who plays the piano and works at a hotel for tips (although later we learn she earns money in ways other than tips). Their family income is very meager. After Hamo sold his items, he pays the busfare owed by Nina. This kind gesture opens up communication between them. Nina visits Hamo's home and they dance to a tune on the radio as their relationship warms up. In another scene, Hamo invites Nina to the wedding of his granddaughter. The wedding feast is superbly captured on camera. The feeling and mood are well conveyed. Two sheep are slaughtered for the guests consumption. An Armenian traditional band plays music and a female singer serenades the married couple. The wedding banquet is set up outside. There is a long table made up with a tablecloth and dishes ... all of it is out in the cold snow. The married couple sit on chairs on a stage. The wedding reception realistically portrayed and is one of the highlights in the film. Other unique perspectives are the cinematic views of the landscape and the village. We learn this was an arranged marriage with a promise made by the groom to find a job for the father-in-law. There were unexpected dire consequencs for the groom when he failed to keep his end of the bargain/promise. The beginning and ending of the film use pieces of furniture to convey meaning within the scenes, each item represents something important and symbolic. It captures the viewer's attention and creates a continuity and closure to the film. Sadly, Nina ends up selling her daughter's piano ... but it is done for the right reasons and everyone involved is in harmony with this decision. It is very clear that both Hamo and Nina are willing to sacrifice some things of importance to themselves to build a life together. This is a most unusual and delightful film highly engaging and a total pleasure to view. Erika Borsos (pepper flower)"
It is very simple, and delightful
Timothy D. Naegele | Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles | 08/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When one views a film like this, one realizes that Hollywood produces pure crap, pardon the expression. So much money is spent on actors and special effects, etc., that little if any attention is given to the simple art of movie-making.
This movie, filmed in a remote, isolated village in post-Soviet Armenia, is about families and death and love, and the beauty and simplicity of life. For those who are purists and love films, this one should be added to your library. It is very simple, and delightful."
Reclaiming human dignity
Reader | Boca Raton, FL | 12/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For anyone who loves foreign movies, this one cannot be missed. Made by Iraqi Kurd director, this film pictures life in one of the former Soviet Republics. Mix of Russian, Armenian and French language gives another dimension to this wonderfully thought out film. We see day to day life in the small village in Armenia where people try their best just to stay alive. Most of them are unemployed and the only way to get any money is to sell off a little bit of life possessions that they have. We see two people, an older widower, who overcomes his misery of daily existance by visiting regularly his wife's grave. A beautiful widow does the same and on their trips to the cemetary, they get to know each other on the local bus. Without giving away much about the plot, this film gives a picture of life in one of the remote places where there is no hope left. Men are unemployed, women are treated as a property of their husbands and there is no sight of any improvement. How can a person retain their dignity in that kind of society? This film will show you at elast how they try to do that. I hope to see more movies from this young, talented director in the future."