Lyrical, elegiac and stunningly beautiful, Silent Souls is a transformative work of cinema that intertwines loss, memory and longing in a funerary ritual that is as much about a disappeared culture as it is about the death of a loved one. Aist (Igor Sergeyev) is a photographer, writer and a descendant of the Merya people, a Finno-Ugric tribe from central-western Russia, whose traditions he documents and preserves in his work. When Tanya, the young wife of his boss and best friend Miron (Yuri Tsurilo) unexpectedly dies, the two men prepare her corpse and observe the tradition of ‘smoking’ – telling intimate stories about the deceased – whilst travelling with Tanya’s body to free her soul in the Volga river. Love and water are the only gods observed by the Merya and these twin forces – passionate intensity and undulating flow – permeate the logic of this visually arresting, totally hypnotic film.
SILENT SOULS is one of those films it resinates with you after the credits have rolled. I’ve always been quite partial to a foreign film last year I ranked ‘Biutiful’ in my top ten favorite films of 2011 but not many of them leave you feeling deeply touched as it did and SILENT SOULS is that but also a beautifully haunting, subtle, melancholic movie.
It’s somewhat funny that a pretty short 75 minute film can leave you feeling that way, the story follows Aist played by Igor Sergeyev a photographer and a great believer of keeping his families traditions alive. His best friend Miron who is also his boss wife passes away so Aist and Miron go on a journey to give Tanya the Merya farewell that tradition dicates. The movie shows off the Russian Landscape like I have never seen before its beautiful and vast roads, mountains and over water. Director Aleskei Fedorchenko must have put in an incredible amount of thought before each and every shot obviously he’s not a huge fan of the close up (other then in the car) and prefers to shoot mostly everything fairly wide which to me works incredibly well with a film like this.
There is a musical score to the film but it is very subtle and plays incredibly well with whats be shown on screen. The scene at the Volga River where Tanya’s body is free’d the music encapsulates what Aist and Miron are feeling at that very time, which to anyone who has buried a love one would be able to relate somewhat with whats happening and the feeling conveyed by Aist and Miron is rather amazing. Performances by Igor Sergeyev (Aist) and Yuri Tsurilo (Miron) are absolutely incredible some points in the film there’s very little dialog and these two actors know how to convey exactly what they need to.
SILENT SOULS is an incredible film which has already won a slew of awards throughout festivals across the world. It’s screening exclusively at Luna Leederville in Perth and selected cinemas across Australia right now.
I give this film 4.5 out of 5. Take a look at the trailer below.