Silent Souls (Ovsyanki) Review and Trailer

A slow, meditative, and beautiful film.

This piece of poetic filmmaking centers around a man helping his boss to bury his wife at sea, according to an antiquated ritual of the Meryan people.  This ushers in a film of reflection of the deaths in his own life, and the greater death of his culture.

Through many long takes, some of which, later on in the film, are fantastic, others of which, towards the beginning, seem dreary and with less purpose, the film creates a somber, reflective atmosphere.  The cinematography is often quite beautiful, and the images stark and metaphorical.

It may seem strange, though, but my main complaint about this movie is that it didn’t seem to do enough. Despite the slow pace, it felt rushed especially the ending).  One hour and fourteen minutes did not feel like a sufficient amount of time to capture all that this topic contains.  The individual scenes were allowed to breathe, which is something I always encourage, but the overall piece did not as much.  The little vignettes we see – of his childhood memories, and of the prostitutes (which is a truly remarkable scene) – were beautiful, but I feel he could have taken it even further.

This is my primary complaint, though, and it’s more to the credit of the film than to take from it.  It’s a beautiful film about a unique culture which has, to my knowledge, almost never been touched upon in any artform except their own.  It’s well worth a view.

The film screens from December 23rd to the 31st at the SF Film Society Cinema, at 1746 Post St.


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