Monday, June 11, 2012

Euro 2012: Ukrainian film, My Joy

Entry #14 of the Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight looks at the single Ukrainian film entry. There was no secondary film selected for Ukraine so the primary film will be used for both the first and third group games.

My Joy (2010, Sergei Loznitsa)

A routine truck delivery job for Georgy (Viktor Nemets) ends up being a nightmarish journey across a dangerous landscape filled with corrupt cops, prostitutes, thieves and ghosts. After encountering a blocked road, Georgy decides to take an alternate route to continue his journey and also to drop a young prostitute safely back to her village. However, the young girl is not thrilled with Georgy’s gesture or the free money he gives her because she feels capable to earn a living on her own. Her anger throws Georgy off and he wanders in the town market for a bit. The packed market features an assorted set of intriguing characters and the camera even follows a few people closely but returns to Georgy. As night falls, Georgy loses his way and encounters a few thieves who hope to strike it rich with Georgy’s cargo. They knock Georgy out cold but are disappointed to learn that the truck has no riches on offer. The story picks up months or even years later when a much transformed emotionless Georgy has nothing in common with his pleasant past self. The new Georgy does not say much and has no time for nonsense. So when he encounters corrupt cops at a checkpoint, he does not hesitate to extract cold revenge. And then like a mythical figure, he disappears into the dark to take his place in the cut-throat countryside.

My Joy starts off by showing concrete poured over a dead body but then settles into a road journey with some subtle humor. However, the film gets darker as the story progresses until all hope and light are squeezed out of the frame. A truly remarkable fade to black.

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