It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to watch and review a Russian movie. Sadly, although disturbing, the 2007 film titled Yarik does not compare well with the Russian Coming-of-Age masterpieces I have seen in the past (i.e. My Name is Ivan, The Return).
The film gets its name from its young protagonist, six-year-old Yarik, who arrives in Moscow with his mother to meet his father. The father never shows up. Yarik’s mother goes to get something sweet for her son and never returns. Thus the little boy finds himself alone in the huge foreign city…
Yarik focuses on the experiences of the young boy, his encounters with kind strangers, policemen and criminals. Influenced by American films, I half expected for him to encounter a molester of some kind, a cliché that would have made the film very predictable. While this is not the case, the film still feels like a form of parental warning: “This may happen to your child” — especially if one is aware that its narrative is based on a real story. To avoid spoilers, I wont further elaborate on the details of the movie but, rather, will focus on its positive and negative qualities as a film.
Young Maxim Kolesnikov delivers a credible performance as Yarik; the confusion, fear, hope and disappointment of the young boy comes across well thanks to his non-pretentious, honest acting style. Taking into account the dramatic undertones of the narrative, he did a great job despite his lack of previous acting experience. If only the other members of the cast delivered such believable performances, instead of the stilted and unnatural ones (with a few exceptions), the story could have become much more poignant. The other thing that made an impression on me was the downcast Russian rock music included in the film’s score. It enhanced the atmosphere of the scenes greatly and I could only wish that it was not so sparingly utilized during the nearly two hours of screen time.
Made for TV, Yarik did not feature any impressive photography worth mentioning. I would classify the film as a dramatized documentary, which is not a bad thing on its own, but the manner in which the scenes were directed ends up being the film’s worst weakness. It effectively managed to under-power the otherwise poignant script.
Yarik is based on such dramatic and tragic real life stories that I yearned to be moved deeply by the way they were presented on screen. I was not …
( warning may include spoilers )