Directed by: Moonika Siimets | 98 minutes | drama | Actors: Helena Maria Reisner, Tambet Tuisk, Yuliya Aug, Juhan Ulfsak, Maria Avdjushko, Argo Aadli, Indrek Taalmaa, Maarja Jakobson, Aarne Soro, Kadri Rämmeld, Tarmo Song, Anna Sergejeva, Hilje Murel, Carmen Mikiver, Sandra Uusberg
“The Little Comrade” is a country drama featuring rolling grain fields, flat caps, hand washing, children clutching teddy bears when needed, and loud background noise, even if it’s footsteps or doors. A bit more subtle could have been done. Effectiveness is not necessary when there is technical story distress. And that suffering is there, in the form of a disrupted family: a mother (Eva Koldits) who is deported to the Gulag in Stalin’s Soviet empire in the 1950s.
Based on the autobiographical works of fellow countrywoman Leelo Tungal, this film by Estonian thirties Moonika Siimets has a modern tempo, actors have a 21st century glance, the tones are matte and soft; here and there a harp strum or a string can be heard. Siimets does not really draw a clear line to depth or historicity. Plot development is also difficult towards the right emotions. They will come, but at the very end, under a visually mild glow.
What also does not help is that the child actress on duty (Helena Marie Reisner) looks quite instructed, making the heart of the film difficult to beat. And that must be the intention. Six-year-old Leelo dissociates like a child, and it is her astonished look that takes us through adult events – often from behind a door. Visually flawless and acceptable from film traditions, but where are we actually after an hour and a half?
Not much further as a viewer: Leelo is not developing; Siimets doesn’t take much of the story: “The Little Comrade” is too flat and too sweet. Nice girl who often looks at the ground and talks to trees – it’s not nice to miss your mother either; further harmony singing in the family atmosphere, fooling around with father (Tambet Tuisk), peeling houses, and boy scouts singing communist battle songs over green pastures. Prefer a good non-fiction work to explain the cruel history.