This bleak late soviet-era drama follows the career of Malyanov (Alexei Ananishov), a young medical school graduate who has been sent to work in Turkmenia, which is on the Caspian Sea. Here he runs into a hodge-podge of people of differing ethnicities, all of them victims of the government's earlier mania for relocating and eliminating whole ethnic groups and classes of people. These desperately unhappy people are unable to find any pleasure in this diverse companionship, but instead are antagonistic to it, and often resort to desperate measures in their doomed attempts to ease their pain. Director Alexander Sokurov is a student of the films of the great filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, and the stunning and poetic imagery of this film particularly, particularly of the landscapes, reflects that apprenticeship.
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