The 3 Rooms of Melancholia | Chicago Reader

The 3 Rooms of Melancholia

Pirjo Honkasalo's bleak, meditative 2004 documentary, about children who have been orphaned or dispossessed as a result of the Russian-Chechen conflict, eschews any attempts to make sense out of this long-running war. Instead Honkasalo probes the faces of her young subjects, whose sorrow and ennui resonate vividly. She divides this elegant video into three parts: in the first she visits a boys' military academy on the island of Kronshtadt near Saint Petersburg; in the second she tours Grozny, Chechnya's bombed-out, eerily lifeless capital, where she follows a woman who rounds up stray children. One heartrending scene shows the woman prying several youngsters from their ailing mother so they can be cared for at a refugee camp, which is the setting for the third part of this disquieting study. In Russian, Chechen, Arabic, and Finnish with subtitles. 106 min.

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