Absurdistan (DVD Review)10 Jul, 2009 By: Isabella Hecht
Prebook 7/14/09; Street 8/11/09
Box Office $0.04 million
In Russian with English subtitles.
Absurdistan’s title says it all. The movie is absurd. It’s also a light-hearted love story, a clever allegory and a probing social commentary. But mostly it’s just absurd and lots of fun.
“Absurdistan” is a term referring to someplace where absurdity is the norm, so don’t get upset when things don’t make sense. The story, which takes place in a tiny, vaguely Russian village, focuses on Aya and Temelko, childhood sweethearts who have been told that in order to bless their union, they must first bathe under a certain arrangement of stars.
This usually wouldn’t be a problem, but the pipes that carry water to the village are going bad, water is getting very scarce and the village men refuse to fix the pipes. If Aya and Temelko are to have their ritual bath, they will need to somehow get water back to the village. Aya easily convinces the fed-up women to deliver an ultimatum to the men: “No water, no sex.”
The story is told mostly in retrospect, with Aya and Temelko narrating. There is little other talking in the film, an interesting stylistic choice which can get a little strange when the characters don’t talk when they should. They tend to grab others and physically transport them, instead of just explaining themselves. Temelko in particular generally gapes like a fish. But in the end, the characters’ silence only adds to the absurdity of the film, which itself is so great that you’ll never notice a little more.
Underneath scenes of the women capturing their philandering men at gunpoint, however, are much more serious issues. Is a successful patriarchy worth trying to save? Is a woman’s power linked only to her sexuality? Questions like these may niggle at the back of your mind as you are watching the film, but they won’t bother you.
The movie is light, silly and loads of fun. Only when the credits begin to roll will you begin to think, and think deeply.