Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
When city-slicker interpreter Lukas (Serhiy Stepansky) gets separated from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) bureaucrats he is working with in the badlands of Ukraine’s war-torn east—he goes to look for a phone signal and when he returns the vehicle and his coworkers have vanished—things begin to get very strange very quickly for the hapless outsider. Stranded, with his passport and money gone, he embarks on a kind of pilgrim’s progress that has him encountering odd characters and experiencing bizarre adventures that seem straight out of the twilight zone. When he is "adopted" by a weird family that includes inventor and glue expert Vova (Viktor Zhdanov) and his attractive and decidedly flirtatious daughter Marushka (Khrystyna Deilyk), Lukas’ conception of what is real and what is not takes a further hit… Roman Bondarchuk’s visually resplendent dark comedy is a one-of-a-kind descent into a world where anything goes, a place where a city boy might learn a thing or two, and even begin to adapt to the odd, desolate, sun-baked environment he has been trapped in. As Vova says, "It is total anarchy. If you get used to it, you’ll survive."
"A poetically surreal love letter to an untamed corner of the Wild East… [Bondarchuk’s film is a] mix of Kafka-esque road movie and contemporary western, rich in sumptuous visuals and lyrical strangeness. There are hints of David Lynch’s macabre absurdism here, but also some agreeably carnivalesque interludes reminiscent of Federico Fellini, Emir Kusturica and even Wes Anderson… A beautifully crafted work."—Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter