This delicate Finnish comedy of social and political manners has all the trimmings of an arthouse crowd-pleaser.
With an undercurrent of triumphant sentimentality uncharacteristic for a wikipedia web page, the entry for shimmering Eurodance jam “Voyage, voyage,” by Desireless, proclaims that the tune “transcended the language barrier on the music charts and have become an enormous worldwide success.” The tune performs thrice in Compartment No. 6, together with over the ending credit; really, cheese crosses all borders. Set largely over the course of a multi-day journey on a cramped practice from Moscow to Murmansk, the movie is a narrative of two strangers, a Finnish lady and a Russian man, who’re thrown collectively, and regardless of their variations…
The Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen has graduated to the Competitors at Cannes following his 2016 Un Sure Regard winner The Happiest Day within the Lifetime of Olli Mäki, and picks up the place the sooner movie’s soft-hearted ending left off. It additionally represents a step ahead for the director when it comes to his world-building and staging of comedy.
Laura (Seida Haarla) is a pupil in Moscow, who was finding out Russian (which she speaks fairly nicely) however now needs to possibly be archaeologist like her social-butterfly girlfriend Irina. The 2 have deliberate a winter journey to Murmansk, north of the Arctic Circle, to see the newly found Kanozero Petroglyphs, however Irina can’t come, so Laura rides solo — apart from the boorish Russian with the opposite berth within the sleeper compartment, Ljoha (Yuriy Borisov), who’s heading north to search out work at a mine, however has just a few days to drink clear alcohol within the meantime.
The 2021 class has already been a fantastic Cannes Competitors for feminine performers, and Seida Haarla provides a successful, clever efficiency as a naturally very intelligent particular person made to really feel small and helpless in an odd land. However Yuriy Borisov pops from the primary moments you see him: his hunched-shoulders posture; his abrupt, agitated actions and boxer’s duck-and-weave stroll; the animalistic method he tears into meals, impatiently and avidly. His character as written is properly calibrated, with the subtext of deep insecurity beneath his boorish exterior, first subtext after which textual content, nevertheless it’s already all there in his physicality.
Following Olli Máki, with its early-’60s town-and-country garments and places, that is one other out-of-the-park smash for Kuosmanen’s costume and manufacturing design groups. The textures of late-’90s Russia, the dying Yeltsin years, are so vivid – the scratchy nylon winter parkas and leftover fashions – and the practice itself is a marvel, from the titular Compartment 6 to the berths with their threadbare curtains to the wan meals within the eating automotive and the traditional laminate-wood panels.
Early within the movie, Irina quotes Marilyn Monroe: “Solely components of us will ever contact solely components of others.” That is pretty maudlin and telegraphed, actually, for a film about fleeting connections and misjudged first impressions, nevertheless it’s additionally an applicable table-setter for a movie that – by way of each characters – explores the issues of self-expression in a overseas language or context, the way in which that your restricted data or consolation or social capital in a given milieu shrinks the aperture that connects you to anybody or anything. A movie referred to as Compartment No. 6 ought to most likely finish quicker than this one does, as soon as its characters get off the practice, however earlier than it settles for being a TIFF viewers award runner-up, the film additionally delivers some perception into touring alone as a lady, and the connection between Finland and Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.