Ended This Summer is
one of the most electrifying
and tense thrillers released in 2010, and chances are it's a film that
audiences have overlooked - not by choice, but because it hasn't
received a fair
amount of attention. This is a film that has managed to slip under the
radar which is sometimes difficult to navigate (and even more so for
language features). It deserves the full attention of audiences seeking
suspenseful, and dramatic storytelling.
Writer/Director Alexei Popogrebsky demonstrates an immense skill as both a visual artist and as someone capable of bringing out strong, emotionally genuine performances from the actors of the film. Grigory Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis are the only central actors in the entire feature. Films featuring only a small number of actors place a larger burden on the performers to create a convincing realism and these are clearly immensely talented actors. Many scenes focus intently only upon the actions of one or the other, and while some actors might fail to carry that amount of dramatic weight these actors are talented artists in their own right and bring How I Ended This Summer to an intense and satisfying conclusion. If either actor had slipped in their performances the entire film would have collapsed -- the story and script are definitely strong, but by necessity the writing required that these actors help carry the entire production. Dobrygin and Puskepalis did exactly that.
This is a stylistically sleek feature film that feels much higher in budget than it actually was for the producers. The Cinematography by Pavel Kostomarov compliments the artistic style of the direction perfectly and makes this an often bleak looking world, with the icy landscapes serving as an undeniably compelling backdrop that is beautifully captured - many moments would work as still images of quiet grace. The natural surroundings of the film are important towards helping emphasize the mood the cinematographer and director wanted to capture.
journey of life can sometimes be an unfairly lonely and isolated one.
journey isn't always a downtrodden one it can become incredibly
it is. There are also times when
horrible events happen to genuinely good people, and those moments can
to their very core, with potentially devastating results. How I Ended This Summer manages to tap
into these moments with compassion for the characters and their
hardships. Sergei and Pavel are faced with
isolation by working together (with no one else around) and without a
understanding of one another. The tension of the film results almost
from the after-math of Sergei learning the terrible news that will
life forever. Without giving things away, this is one suspense film
audiences glued to their seats until the final moments.
How I Ended This Summer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio 1:85:1, and with anamorphic enhancement for widescreen television displays. The transfer looks terrific with great reproduction of the sleek and clean looking cinematography. The brisk colors are well represented. Black levels may be a little less pleasing and desirable but this could be inherent considering the overall look of the film. The icy landscapes are every bit as cold as the image seems to suggest. There are occasionally moments where the image faces some unfortunate distractions such as banding, and with the colors not blending together perfectly. These aren't deal-breakers though as the majority of the transfer is incredibly clean looking and impressive.
included 5.1 mix is mostly used
to enhance the natural sounding environment the characters are placed
in and to
emphasis energetic, electronic-style music that seems appropriately
the film. There is a large focus on the front speakers for the dialogue
reproduction which is crucial in the dramatic moments. Surprisingly,
has a generally strong surround mix that manages to enhance the viewing
How I Ended This Summer is presented
in Russian with English subtitles.
primary extra included on this release is the monthly short film
distributor Film Movement. Entitled First
Day of Peace, the short focuses on a peasant who celebrates the
his surrounding land, which was previously fought over, is now without
shackles of war and free with the sensation of realized peace. This
was directed by Mirko Rucnov and is a production of Bosnia and
wasn't as compelling an effort as the main feature, but it does offer
interesting reflective moments and might be worth watching at least
How I Ended This Summer is worth experiencing for fans of intelligent, slow-building, and fiercely original thrillers with remarkable dramatic backdrops. The performances make the experience intensely captivating. Don't miss out on this under-seen little gem from Russia. Highly Recommended.