Tesnota (Closeness). 2017. Russia. Directed by Kantemir Balagov. In Russian; English subtitles. 118 min.
New York Premiere
A young woman is trapped in a tight-knit Jewish community in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, located in Russia’s North Caucasus, that demands her total dedication but provides her with little protection from the perpetual violence encompassing all aspects of life. Shot mostly in interior spaces, Closeness conjures a world of darkness and claustrophobia as the heroine quietly revolts yet succumbs to her bleak existence. This debut feature by Kantemir Balagov feels more beholden to the social realism of the Dardenne brothers than to the transcendental flair of his mentor, Russian auteur Alexander Sokurov (a producer on this film). Warning: this film contains a scene featuring images of documented violence that viewers may find upsetting.