After presenting himself with a black-and-white romantic drama about the boxer in love “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki”, Finn Juho Kuosmanen shot another unusual romantic drama that European critics embraced. He was awarded the “Coupe No. 6” Kuosmanen Grand Prix at Cannes which he shared with Farhadi’s “Hero,” and this Finnish film made in Russia and among the 15 Oscar nominees entered. He was “Compartment Number 6” and nominated for Best European Film of the Year, and two main actors, Finn Seidi Haarla and Russian Yuri Borisov for Best European Actor.
Their characters will meet by chance on a train from Moscow to a city in the far north of Russia, Murmansk, where Laura, a Finnish archeology student in Moscow, set out to see the famous petroglyphs near Lake Kanozero. By the way, petroglyphs are painted rocks created long ago in the past, and the search for ancient drawings seems to hide some symbolism for the escape from Moscow where he lives with his mistress. During the train journey that will take several days, Laura seems to begin to realize that her Russian mistress doesn’t really care about her as much as she would like, and to make matters worse, she will end up in a compartment with a young Russian Ljok (Borisov). He initially acts like that stereotypical young Russian. He spreads around the compartment and eats pickles from a jar, drinks vodka, smokes and when he sees Laura herself, his first thought will be that she is a prostitute.
But by the end of the journey, a strange relationship will develop between these two seemingly completely different people, and this story of two lonely and unhappy souls who will meet by chance has managed to work. And while Laura is obviously an educated girl, a typical representative of some urban middle-class youth, a hipster listening to some French music on a retro walkman, Ljoka is a somewhat wild, childish young man who went to this isolated place for work. Admittedly, the environment seems a bit like the whole action takes place somewhere in the transition from the 1990s to the 2000s (if so, I apologize to Laura for characterizing her as a hipster), and Kuosmanen achieved a fine, retro atmosphere in which we almost have the impression that we travel with them in a typical Russian train.
There is an interesting dynamic between the characters and their relationship will develop more into a close friendship than a typical romance, and as is often the case, both will realize during the journey that they were full of prejudice and that people are usually not what they might be. and seem at first. Given the huge hymns, I still expected more from “Compartment Number 6”, but there is no denying that it is a charming, even a bit nostalgic film, a subtle drama spiced with a few moments of humor. Rating 7/10.
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