DVD review: Tulpan (12)

Sergei Dvortsevoy (DVD/Blu-ray, 103 mins)

Few films feature so little of their title character – and fewer still can claim to have created moving human drama depicting the lives of the shepherds of the Kazakhstan steppe.

Asa, a graduate of the pacific navy with “top marks in basic training”, struggles with the relentless repetition of desert life. His attempts to woo the only single girl within hundreds of miles (Tulpan) with tales of the beauty of seahorses and under-sea battles with a deadly octopus go unrewarded; to compound the problem, his sister’s husband is frustrated with his hanging around, while on the plains a mystery illness is killing their cattle. Tarkovsky-esque long shots set against the bleak desert frontier and a brewing poignance at the desperation of Asa’s situation conspire to create a film to which anyone who’s experienced unrequited love can relate.