Sunday, 31 May 2009

Igor Kovalyov "Milch" (2005)

I have kept clear of Igor Kovalyov's award winning Milch because a) I found it depressing, and b) it is difficult to understand. The story is of an eight year old boy in a life changing period of his life. The boy's father, a policeman I guess, has a sexual relationship with a girl who delivers milk to his door. In a sense it is an exploitative affair though the girl certainly encourages him. There is no happy ending the girl being whisked off at the end. The doting son's relationship with his father is devoid of warmth on the parent's side. Indeed the man is a cold, intimidating character, with what warmth there is in the family emanating from the grandparents though they, like the boy and mother are mere onlookers. There is also a corruption of the young boy by the events he witnesses and an obsession that is not in any way healthy. Now if the boy were drawn in the manner of the movie I featured a week ago by Sarah Van den Boom then the impact would the greater. Given that he is a meanly drawn figure, a carbon copy if miniaturised version of his father, I find it hard to sympathise with him. This may be explained in part by the dark interiors, unpleasant adults or the mundane images of washing, dustbins, washing, peeling a plaster from a still raw wound. There are snatches of conversation but essentially this is an accessible movie for the non-Russian speaker. What is clear is the lack of love between the boy's parents, a genuine dislike that surfaces with the woman's perfunctory placement of a milk bottle on the table, an echo of a cotton bobbin that seems to hint at other illicit relationships. Past and present, grim reality and fantasy seem merged here in an expertly drawn and animated if often tangential work that tackles in an adult manner the origins of a boy destined to be like his father.

1 comment:

Christo Stamboliev said...

I like your review. Well put.
By the way characters don't speak Russian, it is a made up language that Igor tends to use in his films, so the words the characters utter don't mean anything. Also the father is a military man not police.
I worked on this film, I did the bulk of the animation. Igor is an amazing artist! I feel personal connection with this film having spent countless hour by myself as a child with no television or any sort of entertainment, living in Eastern Europe during the 70-ties.