The Island (nc)

The spirit of Tarkovsky is never far from this rebarbative fable of guilt and atonement by Pavel Lounguine.

A prologue set in 1943 reveals how a young Russian sailor, captured by the Nazis, saved his own life by shooting his captain. Thirty years later the man, Anatoly (Pyotr Mamonov), lives a monkish existence on a remote island in the White Sea, begging God to forgive his "sin" and baffling his fellow monks with his strange behaviour. The film's austere palette of white, black and icy blues are contrasted with the fiery reds of the furnace Anatoly tends – his personal hellfire or a purifying flame? Nothing much is certain in this bleakly enigmatic tale, which moves at a pace most will find unacceptable. Those who stay the course will perhaps, like the monk himself, want to take a long rest afterwards.

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