How I Ended This Summer

How I Ended This Summer

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
New Wave Films

Release date: September 12th, 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 130 minutes

Country of origin: Russia
Original language: Russian with English subtitles

Writer and director: Aleksei Popogrebsky
Producers: Roman Borisevich, Aleksandr Kushaev

Cast: Grigoriy Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis, Igor Chernevich, Ilya Sobolev, Artyom Tsukanov

I don’t know about you, but my summer went by without so much as a day away from the hustle and bustle of life in London.

I wish I could have escaped, even for just a few short hours to a place of solitude, where my thoughts could roam the cavernous spaces in my head without the sound of a ringing telephone nearby or having to worry about clearing my inbox by 5.30pm. That’s how I spent my summer.

How I Ended This Summer (aka Kak Ya Provyol Etim Letom)

Writer and director Aleksei Popogrebsky gives us a look a completely different kind of summer in this stripped down, existentialist film set at a meteorological polar station on an isolated Arctic island between Russia and Alaska.

Far from soaring heatwaves, pleasure beaches and cocktail bars, it’s a bleak landscape where the harsh winter rages all year round. We meet Pavel (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a young guy, somewhat irresponsible and who prefers to spend his time playing video games and listening his ipod. He arrives to start his work experience placement with Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis), an older, experienced meteorologist. They get off to a rocky start.

How I Ended This Summer (aka Kak Ya Provyol Etim Letom)

Pavel is intimidated by his colleague who’s a little bit rough around the edges. He bullies Pavel a bit, but not too much, he wants to show him how to do things but the generation gap between the two means that they see each other from completely different perspectives.

While Sergei is out one day, Pavel receives a transmission on the radio that something’s happened to his wife and children. He doesn’t know what to do, he’s scared of Sergei and panics about how he will react, he decides not to relay the news to him.

How I Ended This Summer (aka Kak Ya Provyol Etim Letom)

This decision creates the tension that lasts for the duration of the movie as the longer he leaves it, the more we want him to tell him but we know it’s now too late. He has so many opportunities and Popogrebsky fills the film with these awkward moments of painful hesitation.

How I Ended This Summer, for all it’s bleak surroundings, is a tense and minimalist piece of cinema that hangs dangerously on the fragile relationship between these two very different men.

How often have we decided against telling someone something because we think it might upset them or because we just couldn’t find the right words or the right time. Those are just excuses though because in the end you find the words and you find the time. Whether or not Pavel learns this remains the thing to be seen here, but by all measures, I have to say my summer was much better in comparison!

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