The Second Circle

“God has a monopoly on time,” director Alexander Sokurov told an interviewer shortly after completing this 1990 film, and its long takes, with little action or movement, create a sense of how time inexorably grinds everything down. A young man tries to dispose of his father's corpse in the snowy Russian north, a story that references the spiritual emptiness of the dying Soviet state (in the obnoxious behavior of a funeral home bureaucrat) and the trap of material life (in an overhead shot of the son ransacking a wardrobe for burial funds). The near omnipresence of the decaying corpse makes the whole thing seem pretty creepy, but Sokurov's muted colors are relieved by the occasional bright object, which suggests that the bleak milieu isn't entirely oppressive. In Russian with subtitles. 92 min.

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