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Ayka

Having kicked up plenty of dust on the steppes of the Palais at Cannes in 2008 with Un Certain Regard entry Tulpan, an almost universally admired blend of warmth, drama and wide-open spaces, Kazakh writer-director Sergey Dvortsevoy returns to the Croisette with competition hopeful Ayka, a far dourer affair set in the drabbest, grubbiest hellholes of Moscow. And if you know Moscow, you know it does drab, grubby hellholes in a big way.

Pivoting around an intense, committed performance from Samal Yeslyamova, who played the main character’s sister in Tulpan, this almost feels like a remake of the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta (1999) as the heroine, filmed often in close-up by a handheld camera, treads the snowy pavements in search of work, frantic for money to pay back a debt. Except Dvortsevoy raises the misery stakes by showing in the first minutes that protagonist Ayka has just given birth and, after abandoning her infant at the maternity ward, must contend not only with poverty, rejection and menacing loan sharks and landlords, but also intense postpartum bleeding and mastitis in her painfully milk-filled breasts.

Views: 1214

Genre: Drama

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Duration: 100 min

Release:

IMDb: 6.0

Ayka