Otago Daily Times Review – by Mark Orton ★★★

FILM REVIEW: ‘Russian Snark’

Sat, 18 Jun 2011


> Russian Snark
3 stars (out of 5)Director: Stephen Sinclair
Cast: Stephen Papps, Elena Stejko, Stephanie Tauevihi, Peter Rowley
Rating: (M)
Shot on location in Auckland with a cast featuring a few familiar faces, Russian Snark is a film that doesn’t lend itself to easy categorisation or critique. Perhaps this has something to do with using Russian immigrants to ask questions about our cultural identity, but Stephen Sinclair’s script barely strays into that territory either.

Rather, from the moment when Misha (Stephen Papps) and Nadia (Elena Stejko) pull up in their motorised lifeboat, the film embarks on a quest to understand what it is to create art, be driven by art and eventually destroyed by it. When Misha states that as an artist he has to no time for conventional narrative, it is hardly likely thatRussian Snark will have one either.

Russian Snark could just as easily have been conceived from a quick-fire creative writing assignment to take the true story of a Russian couple who floated to New Zealand, and follow it to some form of conclusion.

Misha is an eccentric film-maker obsessed with completing a conceptual piece involving still nudes in outdoor settings. As the stress of completing the project starts to wear on Nadia, Misha spectacularly manages to lose both her, and his mind.

Drier than a mouthful of Weetbix, Russian Snark has oodles of wry pathos. Aided by some classy cinematography and a look that belies its modest budget, Stephen Sinclair’s daring concept will be lauded by fans of cult cinema, but is likely to be a little too obscure for the great unwashed.

Best thing:
The dynamic between Papps and Stejko.

Worst thing: Clunky story beats.

See it with: Industrial-strength Russian vodka.



Published June 18th, 2011 at 9:46 am

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