An Intense Tale of Russian Youth
Artsploitation is a new DVD releasing company that is now bringing us some very notable films, all of which are reviewed here (“Gandu”, “Vanishing Waves”, “Hard Romanticker”, etc.). These are films with an edge and probably otherwise would not get a chance to see. “Bullet Collector” marks the debut film of Russian director Alexander Vartanov that explores the traumas of a 14 year old boy who has to deal with a terrible home life which is dominated by an angry mother and a stepfather who cannot stand him. His life as school is no better; he is taunted and attacked brutally. When he is sent to reform school his life gets even worse and he loses himself in a world of fantasy where he has a beautiful girlfriend and is able to defeat those who oppress him.
Vartanov sees beauty in the situations our boy is in and he gives us a very rare drama about prison. Our young hero is angelic in appearance with blonde curls but with a vacant look in his eyes. We watch as he moves from his abusive home life to juvenile prison which is actually a Russian labor camp. The regime he endures is brutal but he is able to rise above it all. Visually this is an amazing film to watch with some very fine acting. It is the director’s eye for detail and poetry that exists in life at the camp that holds us. Filmed in black and white, we see the starkness of life and we return to the wonderful Russian cinema of the 1970’s. I absolutely found the way that Vartanov combines brutality with innocence and youthful incomprehension to be stunning.
With the DVD release we have the treats of these extras:
-Making of featurette
-Cast audition interviews
-12-page collectable booklet