Director: Kirill Serebrennikov | 137 minutes | drama | Actors: Kseniya Rappoport, Roman Shmakov, Yevgeniya Kuznetsova, Sergey Sosnovskiy, Sergei Medvedev, Igor Khripunov
Well-known opera singers Lyuba from Moscow takes her 20-year-old son on a nostalgic trip to the village where she was once born. This village, which lies in no man’s land in Russia, seems to have stood still for about twenty years during the great developments of the immense country. Lyuba’s son Andrei does not like his mother’s ideas for taking this curious journey into a forgotten memory. Once arrived, Andrei mysteriously disappears, after which Lyuba goes looking for him. Life in this remote village and encounters with its inhabitants set in motion a spiritual transformation.
“Yuri’s Day” is such a typical film from the Russian cinemas. A very slow-moving story, the attention to facial expressions and images and the mainly poetic and philosophical approach to life and society. It is not without reason that quotes are given by the writers Chekhov and Solzhenitsyn in the first minutes of the film. The story of the missing son is totally secondary to the development of the main character Lyuba and the changes she goes through. A journey through time, a journey of the human mind and the input that one’s soul receives when it meets completely different people than itself; the poor villagers, the addicted and aggressive man, the inmates who live in a kind of pigsty. This is what the movie is, and not a story that has a neat beginning and end.
This is one of the main reasons why “Yuri’s Day” is not suitable for the general public. It is a typical Russian arthouse production that revels in melancholy and feels like an elongated philosophical poem. Although there is certainly an interesting premise, the film does not achieve the real power that actually leads the viewer into this spiritual narrative. The slow progression of the film is mainly responsible for this. However, the opera and ecclesiastical music is of enormous value for “Yuri’s Day”, it gives real goosebumps at times, especially in combination with the excellent acting of lead actress Kseniya Rappoport.
“Yuri’s Day” by director Kirill Serebrennikov is a nice film about the personal changes of an individual after a major event. Unfortunately, the slow tempo of the film in combination with the long playing time makes it difficult to keep the attention during the entire film. Tribute for Kseniya Rappoport, on the other hand, is certainly in order.