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BAD ROADS (2020, UKR) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating

Right at the beginning of the note – I watched this movie a few months ago, when I wrote the review. It was before anyone could have thought that such a terrible war could happen in Ukraine, but after 2014 Ukrainian cinematography began to deal intensively with the constant conflict with neighboring Russia and a good part of these films took place in Donbas. An exception is not the drama that was directed by the debutant director Natalija Vorožbit according to her own drama. Although “Bad Roads” was the first film she directed, she has already written many screenplays for films and directing, and this dark and at times shockingly realistic drama consists of four stories connected only in some minimal details.

And it is a real pity that these stories are quite uneven in quality and the first and last story are great, while these two in the middle are still much weaker. The third and longest story about a Russian volunteer and a Ukrainian journalist who was captured by him is especially painful and gloomy. The first about a drunken school principal who arrived at the checkpoint paperless and the last about a woman from the city who accidentally ran over a chicken in the village are even marginally comical, black-humored. Together, “Bad Roads” could be described as a film about people who strayed somewhere and found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as all stories have in common that it describes individuals and a society completely destroyed by war.

Everything here seems so cold, heartless and there is no minimal light at the end of the tunnel, almost post-apocalyptic. It seems to me that the role model for this film was Sergei Loznica with his documentary “Donbass” because here, too, the action takes place in this unstable and turbulent area, and everything seems terribly real and realistic. “Bad Roads” premiered at the Critics’ Week in Venice and had a beautiful festival life, and in the selection for the best Ukrainian film of the year it had as many as 15 nominations and won five awards (among them for best screenplay, discovery of the year). This film was also a Ukrainian Oscar nominee, and when everything is taken into account, it was quite ok. Rating 7/10.


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