The film visually is reminiscent of “Nanook of the North” and its story of “Still Life”. One is at times also reminded of Akira Kurosawa’s “Dersu Uzala”. The film makes a conscious choice to name its main protagonist “Nanook” (to connects itself to Flaherty’s work), but this connection equal parts eye-opening and confusing. (Unlike “Nanook of the North” the film is not a documentary and employs no professional actors for its roles). You don’t expect a movie from Bulgaria to take place in a setting like the north pole: depicting a man and a woman living a somewhat idyllic life ice fishing. The movie spends time documenting their lifestyle and habits. This is strategy, however, is a ruse to delay the introduction of story points and build up dramatic tension. The back and forths between the couple, the house and nature are captured in stunning shots (especially in terms of color and composition), and slowly begins to lessen our exception of having to face any drama. Once when the film does decide to show its sprinkling of story and dramatic twists and bring the viewer into the story, we are shocked. However, the film’s strategy of abandonment and refusal is still maintained and does not take away from the coherence of the film.
This is the second feature film by Milko Lazarov and was filmed in Russia. The first film, “Otchuzhdenie”, is about a fifty-year-old man who has taken his old car across the border to buy a kid. There is no doubt that Lazarov makes his films in opposition to machine life and the rule of modern technology, but instead of criticizing the manifestations of the modern world, he prefers to depict some of the forgotten aspects of life in the past. Like eating in silence, being close to nature, or carpentry, sewing and cooking with very basic tools. The film, thankfully, is not angry and indifferent in expressing nostalgic ideas. This is its beauty.