Kitoboy – Naivety in Chukotka

REVIEW
by Naya Guseva
30.10.2020
First love can hardly be painless. Especially if the feeling is as intangible as the object of sympathy. Film director Philip Yuryev called his film Kitoboy (2020) a trip to Chukotka and offered to enjoy the story of a boy in a small town. The viewer sees a melancholy expanse in which he is lost along with the main character.
There are no professional actors in the film: in spite of this, the performer of the role of Lyoshka Vladimir Onokhov, a 16-18 years old resident of a distant Chukchi settlement, won in the category «Best male role» on the Kinotavr.
Thanks to the simplicity with which Yuryev approached the film, even Christina Asmus is not perceived here as a star - just as a webcam model from an American website. She is the catalyst for Lesha: more precisely, his American dream and puberty. To some extent, it is really funny to watch a guy in a deaf village where the light works 2/2 falls in love with a girl from far away Detroit and thinks that her nickname HolySweet999 is a real name.
The director pays a lot of attention to the environment. The huge amount of material for the film is more like a National Geographic documentary, whether it's the noisy steppes or whale gut footage. In this vast void, the protagonist tries to cling to this thread with a made-up name - he learns English from the library's children's textbooks, rehearses in front of a mirror, and, most fatefully, he decides to swim some 86 kilometres to Alaska.
For Lyoshka, who has been in the sea since childhood, this section on the map is just two fingers long. For the viewer, who knows about border guards and understands the doom of the idea, the moment of the boy's departure from his home shore seems like a point of no return.
In fact, Lyoshka crosses the line by spending the last electricity on intimate chats and takes everything too seriously – he almost kills his best friend. The main character is the only one on this island who is not stuck at the bottom of a groundhog. For the rest of the population, catching a whale is almost the only entertainment, except that local discos dilute the flow of days. Even Lyoshka's grandfather is sure every day that he will die tomorrow, and he is mistaken: maybe he wants to finish his days as soon as possible, and the Chukchi beauty does not let anyone go for nothing.

The film features a cultural, if not international, dialogue: a distant and "hot" America with the village of Lorino. The viewer, together with the hero, is at a crossroads where he is explained where the past and future, good and evil, benefit and harm are. Lyosha is transported to Alaska by an American border guard, wishing him luck in finding his ghostly love and sharing marshmallows as a sign of friendship. Maybe all this is painful nonsense because in the end, the boy confesses from powerlessness: "I am sick of this America" and somehow returns to his native village. We don't know how it happened, and we don't have to – the main thing is that everything ended well.
Of course, the viewer cares about the happy end of this story, because the Chukchi boy with naive dreams is simply pathetic. For us, this story is one of the hundreds we will see. For Lyosha, these three days of storytelling are perhaps the brightest memories of a lifetime. Is it worth the risk and going to the cinema? Sure, if you want to fully immerse yourself in the melancholic fields of Chukotka.
 
Kitoboy – Naivety in Chukotka
REVIEW
by Naya Guseva
30.10.2020
First love can hardly be painless. Especially if the feeling is as intangible as the object of sympathy. Film director Philip Yuryev called his film Kitoboy (2020) a trip to Chukotka and offered to enjoy the story of a boy in a small town. The viewer sees a melancholy expanse in which he is lost along with the main character.
There are no professional actors in the film: in spite of this, the performer of the role of Lyoshka Vladimir Onokhov, a 16-18 years old resident of a distant Chukchi settlement, won in the category «Best male role» on the Kinotavr.

Thanks to the simplicity with which Yuryev approached the film, even Christina Asmus is not perceived here as a star - just as a webcam model from an American website. She is the catalyst for Lesha: more precisely, his American dream and puberty. To some extent, it is really funny to watch a guy in a deaf village where the light works 2/2 falls in love with a girl from far away Detroit and thinks that her nickname HolySweet999 is a real name.
The director pays a lot of attention to the environment. The huge amount of material for the film is more like a National Geographic documentary, whether it's the noisy steppes or whale gut footage. In this vast void, the protagonist tries to cling to this thread with a made-up name - he learns English from the library's children's textbooks, rehearses in front of a mirror, and, most fatefully, he decides to swim some 86 kilometres to Alaska.

For Lyoshka, who has been in the sea since childhood, this section on the map is just two fingers long. For the viewer, who knows about border guards and understands the doom of the idea, the moment of the boy's departure from his home shore seems like a point of no return.
For Lyoshka, who has been in the sea since childhood, this section on the map is just two fingers long. For the viewer, who knows about border guards and understands the doom of the idea, the moment of the boy's departure from his home shore seems like a point of no return.

In fact, Lyoshka crosses the line by spending the last electricity on intimate chats and takes everything too seriously – he almost kills his best friend. The main character is the only one on this island who is not stuck at the bottom of a groundhog. For the rest of the population, catching a whale is almost the only entertainment, except that local discos dilute the flow of days. Even Lyoshka's grandfather is sure every day that he will die tomorrow, and he is mistaken: maybe he wants to finish his days as soon as possible, and the Chukchi beauty does not let anyone go for nothing.
The film features a cultural, if not international, dialogue: a distant and "hot" America with the village of Lorino. The viewer, together with the hero, is at a crossroads where he is explained where the past and future, good and evil, benefit and harm are. Lyosha is transported to Alaska by an American border guard, wishing him luck in finding his ghostly love and sharing marshmallows as a sign of friendship. Maybe all this is painful nonsense because in the end, the boy confesses from powerlessness: "I am sick of this America" and somehow returns to his native village. We don't know how it happened, and we don't have to – the main thing is that everything ended well.
Of course, the viewer cares about the happy end of this story, because the Chukchi boy with naive dreams is simply pathetic. For us, this story is one of the hundreds we will see. For Lyosha, these three days of storytelling are perhaps the brightest memories of a lifetime. Is it worth the risk and going to the cinema? Sure, if you want to fully immerse yourself in the melancholic fields of Chukotka.
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