A famed Lithuanian painter expresses the torment of his youth through his paintings. But lately, even his work provides no solace, for he falls into a deep mid-life crises and can find no inspiration. This grim, earnest and arty drama looks back upon his formative years, the joy of which were destroyed by Stalin's policies. The darkness began for him when his father was arrested for being an enemy of the state and sent to a Siberian prison. The boy and his remaining family become social pariahs, and the only way his mother can support them is to prostitute herself to the local police and politicians. Eventually the young painter is sent to the countryside, but even there, he cannot escape the fear and oppression. To cope, he becomes hard and cynical; his mother too changes dramatically and when the father finally returns home, he finds himself among virtual strangers.
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