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Reviews for January 2nd, 2009




Cargo 200

Directed by Aleksei Balabanov.


In Russian with subtitles. In 1984, Valera (Leonid Bicevin), a young man, drives a young woman, Angelika (Agniya Kuznetsova), whom he met at a club, and takes her, against her will, to a small shack where Alexei (Alexei Serebryakov) lives with his wife, Tonya (Natalya Akimova). Meanwhile, thereís a disgusting man, Zhurov (Alexei Poluyan) who shows up to rape and torture Angelika and, eventually, chaining her to a bed. Angelika repeatedly says that her father is one of the leaders of the communist movement and that her fiancť will come to rescue her and kill her abusers/abductors. In many different ways, the film borrows from horror films especially given how evil people lure young, gullible victims so easily. Writer/director Aleksei Balabanov keeps the scenes of torture at a minimum while allowing for more psychologically horrors because the audience doesnít really know what kind of other sufferings Angelika will go through. Even when Angelika gets raped the first time and loses her virginity, only the aftermath of that scene is shown. When it comes to the filmís plot, there arenít any surprises here, though, and it takes a while for the plot to thicken into something thatís somewhat coherent. Initially, thereís a foreboding sense of danger and mystery, but, within the second act, it gradually fizzles as you meet the evil abductors and figure out how theyíre connected to one another. What are their motives, though? Why donít they just rape Angelika and then simply kill her? Will Angelikaís father or someone else come to save her? Those are the questions that come to mind throughout Angelikaís ordeal, but their answers arenít particularly explored here, which makes the writing seem lazy and unimaginative. Balabanov effectively uses cinematography and settings to enhance the generally grim and bleak atmosphere. He also includes a few brief moments of very offbeat and dark humor, but not enough to lighten the filmís serious and depressing tone. At a running time of only 89 minutes, Cargo 200, manages to be mildly compelling, but, essentially, itís just another bland, tedious, pointless version of Hostel with much less blood-and-guts and ultimately leaves you with a bitter aftertaste.
Number of times I checked my watch: 4.
Released by The Disinformation Company. Opens at the Cinema Village.





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