Grace review – monumentally odd father-daughter odyssey via mobile cinema

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Travelling across Russia in mostly silence, Ilya Povolotsky’s debut feature has a strange confidence in its own insistent dispiritedness

With long journeys in a red camper van, long unbroken shots of shattered Caucasian landscapes, and very long silences between its alienated father and daughter, Ilya Povolotsky’s debut feature has a strange confidence in its own monumental dispiritedness. “I want to know that you have a plan,” says the teenager. “And that we won’t get stuck somewhere outside Khabarovsk with a chicken and a sad librarian woman.” This being a Russian art film, you wouldn’t bet against it.

The two unnamed characters, played by Maria Lukyanova and Gela Chitava, are making their way across the country for unspecified reasons, other than her desire to see the sea. They run a small mobile cinema out of their van for wan residents of purgatorial steppe towns and flog snacks and porn by night at sketchy truck stops for the hauliers who aren’t with sex workers. The father has transient liaisons of his own, adding an accusatory edge to his daughter’s faraway gaze, frequently fixed on nothing. Things aren’t looking up when they reach the sea; local people are scooping dead fish off the foreshore. “Fish plague,” says a police officer. “You’d better leave now.”

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