With its dusty color palette and rough nomadic characters, this 2008 Kazakh drama immediately calls to mind the drily ethnographic Mongolian export The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003), though writer-director Sergei Dvortsevoy has a much better sense of character and story. The protagonist is a young veteran of the Russian navy who moves in with his sister's family in the windy Hunger Steppe, hoping to marry a reclusive local beauty and establish himself as a shepherd. Often the antagonist seems to be nature itself: with documentary rigor Dvortsevoy records the dust devils that flare up around the family's camp and, in a tense climax, the hero's panicky attempt to deliver a baby sheep. A winner of the Cannes film festival's Un Certain Regard prize, this stayed with me, though I wasn't always happy to stay with it; the incessant braying of sheep, camels, and children may send you racing from the theater in search of the nearest martini lounge. 100 min.
Director: Sergei Dvortsevoy
Writer: Sergei Dvortsevoy and Gennadi Ostrovsky
Producer: Karl Baumgartner
Cast: Tolepbergen Baisakalov, Ondas Besikbasov, Samal Esljamova, Askhat Kuchencherekov and Bereke Turganbayev