Outskirts

A handful of farmers in the Urals band together to hunt down, torture, and murder the men who took their ancestral land, pursuing their exploiters upward through a chain of command and forward in time through a compressed political history of the region. In this nuanced black-and-white parody of cinematic styles and techniques, the horrifying and the hilarious are inseparable—farcical pacing and subtle and not-so-subtle visual jokes don't quite provoke laughter because of the sobering violence, but the tonal complexity is uncanny. Though the allegory seems thinnest where it's most obvious—at the end—the immediacy of the precisely crafted imagery and sound is striking throughout. Snow flurries fly from the screen, a character's fur hat is almost palpable, the mention of the wetness of someone's wool coat raises gooseflesh, and the exaggerated creaking of a gate as the men enter the home of an enemy one of them will brutalize offscreen while the others play chess is at once a tension-breaking absurdity and a grittily realist detail. Written by Alexei Samoryadov and director Peter Lutsik (1998). 95 min.

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