Director: Aleksei Balabanov

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Of Freaks & MenArriving in St. Petersberg fresh out of the Russian army, young Danila (Sergei Bodrov Jr.) relies on his older brother (Viktor Sukhorukov) to get re-established in civilian life. But Danila's Brother is a hit man for the mob, & his connections may not be entirely what one expects.

Brother (Brat, 1997) has independent filmmaker panache. Though on the surface it's a low-budget action film frequently compared to Tarrantino, & good of kind even on that limited level, it actually has something bigger & better at its edges.

That the director has art in mind was more overtly evident in his very unusual & artfully photographed black & white film Of Freaks & Men (Pro urodov i lyudey, 1998).

There was a gritty perverse romanticism to the sadomasochistic urges explored in Of Freaks which might easily be mistaken for sexism but I found it not hard to believe that such people do exist & behave in precisely this manner. Of Freaks & Men blends realism with an almost dreamy weirdness.

These two films were so different from one another, & so good, they left me eager to see anything this director ever makes.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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