A great Russian film has come to the international competition of the Odessa International Film Festival. A duo, Lyubov Lvova and Sergey Taramaev directed “Metamorphosis” and are presenting it for the first time on international soil.
The story is about an incredibly talented pianist, Alexey Senin (Egor Koreshkov). He seems to be on the learning disability spectrum which leaves him antisocial and awkward. He acts like a polite child and it is clear that he is completely asexual. His disability is not the only entity that facilitates his nature, his mother, Tatiana (Yuliya Aug) is problematically protective and controlling of his every move. She puts him on restrictive diets, locks him in his room and limits any socializing if it’s not family or work. He is living in an unbelievably restrictive bubble for a gifted 25-year old man in the 21st century – it’s somewhat reminiscent of the mother-daughter relationship in the film “Carrie”.
The lives of these already complex characters gets exacerbated when a powerful businessman, Vladimir (Denis Shvedov) and his 11-year old daughter, Sasha (Vasilisa Bernaskoni) come to visit the area where Alexey and his mother live. It’s not bad at first, Alexey and Sasha connect immediately and he gets that comfort that has been missing from his bubble. Likewise, this seems to be Sasha’s first close friend because she has some social issues of her own. However, her difficulties seem to come from her being a strange child rather than any learning disability. The two hold hands as they take walks in the woods and tell stories to each other. It’s simple and pure innocence, yet Vladimir and Tatiana don’t believe that this age difference is proper for a friendship. Tatiana’s defensiveness also means she doesn’t want Alexey to connect with anybody else, her jealousy manifests into something darker as the film goes on. The film spirals into a mad chase of the two runaway friends and the ending is truly wild, but will not be spoilt here.
The film’s style is clean and beautiful. There are many dismal yet gorgeous shots of the Russian wilderness and of the opulence and magnificence of Alexey’s concerts. The camera work made the dilapidated structures in the woods truly feel like the lavish imaginary spaces Alexey and Sasha described to each other. Overall, the movie was interesting and had a few unexpected turns. Just to reiterate, the unconventional ending is worth a watch.