Sergei, an indolent student with Beckham-style cute looks, has to spend the summer at an isolated arctic weather station in the rather dispiriting company of Pasha, a veteran meteorologist some 30 years his senior, as harsh and unforgiving as nature can be on this remote island at the far north-eastern tip of Russia.
Obviously Popogrebsky relishes the gulag-for-two experience: dump two men into the sweaty confinement of each other’s hostile company, imprison them in the infinity and mercilessness of the elements, endow them with clashing worldviews, let the tension build...
Everything in these post-apocalyptic surroundings suggests doom and gloom – this is, of course, a radioactive area – an atmosphere expertly emphasized by Pavel Kostomarov’s haunting cinematography. At this point, the allegory is obvious, and you’re prepared for a parable about generational conflict in modern Russia.
And I guess you get just that, as, two-thirds into the beautifully shot, slow-paced action, the film sinks into a totally grotesque, pointless and absolutely unconvincing B-thriller. The irony is that, if anything, it’s in its very own debacle that the film seems representative of today’s Russia.
Did Popogrebsky deserve a prize for that? Nyet!
How I Ended This Summer | Directed by Aleksei Popogrebsky (Russia 2010) with Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis. Opens September 1