The Man from Podolsk – Take That, Sunshine Woman!

REVIEW
by Lera Grebennikova
20.12.2020
The Man from Podolsk (2020) is Semyon Serzin's debut movie based on a play by Dmitry Danilov. Speaking of the main idea, it's an absurd tragicomedy set in the middle of a police station.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didn't happen to see the play itself on stage. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to see this work from a cinematic point of view, without resorting to excessive comparison with its theatrical version. However, the original script has been adapted for cinematography by Julia Lukshina. The main idea – as it was in the original play – the classical unity of place, time and action – has been abolished. However, this didn't spoil the film. On the contrary, it brought a special charm to the number of details and dialogues in this work.

It's an absurd tragicomedy set in the middle of a police station, as I have already mentioned. Many critics called this work a bit "kafkaesque" because of some similarities with Franz Kafka's works – this movie is also strange, unpredictable, and grotesque, just like Kafka' writings.
The main character Nikolai (Vadik Korolev) is arrested and taken to a police station. And it's unclear what for. He tries to steal the evidence thinking that this is supposedly against him. Suddenly police officers Mikhalych (Vladimir Meisinger) and Palych (Mikhail Kasapov) enter the room. You begin to realize that something is wrong from this particular moment. The movie says it out loud thanks to a policewoman Marina (Victoria Isakova). "Kolya, did you expect us to plant drugs on you or start beating you up, making you urge to testify against yourself?"
– she said.

They start asking Nikolai strange questions, like where he is from, what he does, and whether he remembers any details of his life, such as what color the walls in his entrance hall are and what he sees on his way from Podolsk to Moscow and back. They dance and sing together, eat salad from vegetables grown in the greenhouse right inside the police department and tell each other different stories.

However, there is something scary about the film. It can probably be explained by the Russian nature, because we have developed an attitude towards police officers over the years. For us they are more like "musora" (bad cops). We don't expect anything good from them in any case. You expect this farce to end and the cops to revert to their regular 'form' after every dialogue throughout the movie. You think that there should be a limit to this grotesque. There should be a limit to the absurd, you think, which diligently replaces Reality which cops are trying to revive in Nikolai. What gives the story this unique suspense is the underside of a peaceful action. By the way, none of the characters gets close to Reality even at the end of the film.

This is probably the reason why the most violent scene looks so adequate in the midst of this endless madness. In this scene Nikolai, succumbing to his fantasies, smashes everything around him, kills all the police officers, hits Marina with a fire extinguisher, and shouts, "Take that, sunshine woman!", while setting the station on fire.
The film is filled with lots of cool details that can give extra meanings and reveal the characters more and more gracefully (that's the pure beauty of metaphorical film language!). For example, there is a moment with Nikolai and Marina swimming in the pool and discussing Nikolai's attraction to girls, his sexual desires, and deep-seated experiences. Many things come to mind in connection with this scene , such as questions of self-identity which go after the symbolism of water as the original matter in the womb. Even that pool was a place for reflection and reminiscence, literally a chamber of deprivation.
There were some allusions in the film, so-called "variations on the theme" of Gaspar Noé's films – neon corridors with no way out, provoking the feeling of complete insecurity and danger, making us think that this police station is somewhere completely outside time and space, existing on its own, with its own laws.

It's hard not to mention the cool soundtrack: from Grazhdanskaya Oborona (this music is just like the film – cheerful and perky outside, but incredibly dreary and dystopian inside) to the dark ambient, transitioning to industrial music of Einstürzende Neubauten. It's mesmerizing, and it makes you dive into this absurd world completely.
 
The Man from Podolsk – Take That, Sunshine Woman!

REVIEW
by Lera Grebennikova
20.12.2020
The Man from Podolsk (2020) is Semyon Serzin's debut movie based on a play by Dmitry Danilov. Speaking of the main idea, it's an absurd tragicomedy set in the middle of a police station.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didn't happen to see the play itself on stage. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to see this work from a cinematic point of view, without resorting to excessive comparison with its theatrical version. However, the original script has been adapted for cinematography by Julia Lukshina. The main idea – as it was in the original play – the classical unity of place, time and action – has been abolished. However, this didn't spoil the film. On the contrary, it brought a special charm to the number of details and dialogues in this work.

It's an absurd tragicomedy set in the middle of a police station, as I have already mentioned. Many critics called this work a bit "kafkaesque" because of some similarities with Franz Kafka's works – this movie is also strange, unpredictable, and grotesque, just like Kafka' writings.

The main character Nikolai (Vadik Korolev) is arrested and taken to a police station. And it's unclear what for. He tries to steal the evidence thinking that this is supposedly against him. Suddenly police officers Mikhalych (Vladimir Meisinger) and Palych (Mikhail Kasapov) enter the room. You begin to realize that something is wrong from this particular moment. The movie says it out loud thanks to a policewoman Marina (Victoria Isakova). "Kolya, did you expect us to plant drugs on you or start beating you up, making you urge to testify against yourself?"
– she said.
They start asking Nikolai strange questions, like where he is from, what he does, and whether he remembers any details of his life, such as what color the walls in his entrance hall are and what he sees on his way from Podolsk to Moscow and back. They dance and sing together, eat salad from vegetables grown in the greenhouse right inside the police department and tell each other different stories.

However, there is something scary about the film. It can probably be explained by the Russian nature, because we have developed an attitude towards police officers over the years. For us they are more like "musora" (bad cops). We don't expect anything good from them in any case. You expect this farce to end and the cops to revert to their regular 'form' after every dialogue throughout the movie. You think that there should be a limit to this grotesque. There should be a limit to the absurd, you think, which diligently replaces Reality which cops are trying to revive in Nikolai. What gives the story this unique suspense is the underside of a peaceful action. By the way, none of the characters gets close to Reality even at the end of the film.

This is probably the reason why the most violent scene looks so adequate in the midst of this endless madness. In this scene Nikolai, succumbing to his fantasies, smashes everything around him, kills all the police officers, hits Marina with a fire extinguisher, and shouts, "Take that, sunshine woman!", while setting the station on fire.
The film is filled with lots of cool details that can give extra meanings and reveal the characters more and more gracefully (that's the pure beauty of metaphorical film language!). For example, there is a moment with Nikolai and Marina swimming in the pool and discussing Nikolai's attraction to girls, his sexual desires, and deep-seated experiences. Many things come to mind in connection with this scene , such as questions of self-identity which go after the symbolism of water as the original matter in the womb. Even that pool was a place for reflection and reminiscence, literally a chamber of deprivation.

There were some allusions in the film, so-called "variations on the theme" of Gaspar Noé's films – neon corridors with no way out, provoking the feeling of complete insecurity and danger, making us think that this police station is somewhere completely outside time and space, existing on its own, with its own laws.

It's hard not to mention the cool soundtrack: from Grazhdanskaya Oborona (this music is just like the film – cheerful and perky outside, but incredibly dreary and dystopian inside) to the dark ambient, transitioning to industrial music of Einstürzende Neubauten. It's mesmerizing, and it makes you dive into this absurd world completely.
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