Cargo 200

Gruz 200

Director: Alexi Balabanov
Year: 2007
Country: Russia
Running time: 89 mins

Screenplay: Alexei Balabanov
Photography: Alexander Simonov
Editor: Tatyana Kuzmicheva
In Russian with English subtitles
R18 violence, sexual violence

With: Agniya Kuznetsova, Alexei Poluyan, Leonid Gromov, Alexei Serebryakov, Leonid Bichevin

Festivals: Venice, London 2007; Rotterdam 2008

The year is 1984 and "Cargo 200" is code for a shipment from Afghanistan: a shipment of dead Russian soldiers. This darkly disturbing story is an allegory of Soviet society in terminal collapse. A bleak industrial hellhole in Kazakhstan forms the crossroads for an unlikely collection of comrades. A professor of atheism, a party-hearty young couple and a wannabe entrepreneur (with the local Party chief's daughter in hand) all cross paths at an isolated and illegal drinking hole patrolled by a local police captain - a violent sexual psychopath. Director Alexei Balabanov (Of Freaks and Men, Brother) fuses the cinematic purity of Tarkovsky's Stalker with the amoral bleakness of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. A Battleship Potemkin for the new century, Cargo 200's nihilistic black humour smashes the last remaining rose-tinted glasses of any Russian still pining for the pre-perestroika, proverbial "good old days". — MS

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