Friday 20 June 2014

The Owners - a film review

In some places, rural life is not the idyll some of us might romantically imagine it to be.

In The Owners, three siblings come from the city to live in a house they've inherited from their mother, situated in a village in a rural area of Kazakhstan. The brothers think it will be a better place to look after their young sister, who has epilepsy. They couldn't be more wrong.

It soon turns out that the stunning landscape is the backdrop to a community plagued by violence and corruption. The family soon finds themselves at the receiving end of violence from a former tenant and his gang. Things escalate quickly with the police being obstructions to justice.

The local residents are indifferent to everything that goes on around them and during the film become more and more likely to break out into inappropriately upbeat dancing. This sometimes feels jarring, but is certainly a very effective way to underline their indifference.

It's a beautifully made film, full of rich colour, stunning landscapes. The absurd scenes and characters amuse but also obliquely comment on the state of society in post Soviet Kazakhstan. In the end, it all feels deeply pessimistic. The sunflowers that the siblings placed on the windowsill of the house when they first moved in, turn out finally to be as misleading a symbol of hope as the locals' dancing.

The Owners is showing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival:

2040, 22 June at Odeon and 2045, 26 June at Cineworld

Disclaimer: I've got a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival

You can read my other reviews from the Film Festival by following the links below:

Legacy, Mistory and Language - a review of N: The Madness of Reason; A House in Berlin and Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

Ancient Temples, Vertigo and Film-making - a review of Manakamana and La ultima pelicula. 

 A reminder that I'm running a blog giveaway to win a pdf of my book Bougainvillea Dancing, poetry, prose and photos inspired by Malawi. Find out more and enter here.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

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