At the festival in Locarno, Switzerland, Russian actress Natalija Kudryašova presented herself in the role of screenwriter and director of this social coming-of-age drama with minimal elements of fantasy. And thematically, “Gerda” almost completely continues the trend in modern Russian films, in which everyday life there is depicted in a not at all optimistic way. It is typical of that failed depressed Russia of drunkards and whores, everything is gray, gloomy, depressing, so it is not surprising that the title character with a mentally fragile mother lives in an apartment in one of those typical socialist apartment blocks in an unnamed Russian provincial town.
Lera (debutant Anastazija Krasovskaja won the best actress award in Locarno) is a sociology student who during the day has the task of conducting a survey among people about the quality of life. But overnight, Lera becomes Gerda and earns money as a stripper in a local night club. And Lera seems like one of those girls who seems to be trapped in her life and although she would like to change a lot of things, she feels completely helpless. When she is at the strip bar, she seems to forget about real life and worries, about the dysfunctional family and the crazy mother who lives in a world of her own and the drunkard father who breaks into their apartment every now and then and causes problems.
However, so that “Gerda” would not be just a typical offshoot of modern Russian social realism, we also have some surreal elements that seem to take shape in Lera’s dreams. She constantly dreams of some mystical place where she seems to be able to see her own soul and herself before she took shape in a human body. It’s as if her soul remembers the metaphysical perfection she once witnessed before she became human, and until the end it will seem that both Lera and her mom are almost like fairies who are too kind and too sensitive for the cruel world in which they find themselves. And indeed the world we see seems creepy, astonishing, cruel and sad, and although it had its bright moments, this rather strange allegorical drama still remained at the average level and below expectations.