16 Jan 2020

Why Don't You Just Die! (Kirill Sokolov, 2018)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼


When we are first introduced to a protagonist, Matvey - a naive, somewhat enigmatic and, as it later turns out, death-resilient young everyman - he is standing at the doorstep of an apartment in a residential building, hesitating to press the doorbell and concealing a hammer behind his back. Judging by the quivering of both of his hands, he has never done what he is about to do, and 'what' is most definitely not borrowing some sugar from his fellow neighbor. And after we finally meet the neighbor, a grumpy police chief, Andrey, who also happens to be the no-good father of Matvey's actress girlfriend Olya, Sokolov delivers a dialogue so tense that the following, brilliantly staged duel of the living-room-crashing proportions comes off as its logical continuation.

One of the reasons Matvey and Andrey engage in a Mortal Kombat-esque fight gets revealed once a shotgun is put to use, and it won't be a spoiler to tell that it's related to big bucks, because the thrashing happens during the opening fifteen minutes. A lot of blood and many secrets are yet to be spilled in Sokolov's promising feature debut that bursts with youthful energy and eye-popping style in equal measure. Split in several (retrospective) chapters through which we learn more about each character's motivation (or rather, dirty laundry), Why Don't You Just Die! (originally, Papa, sdokhni) bears a resemblance to a Tarantino film (Pulp Fiction) in structure, whereas its twisted humor is reminiscent of a Spanish (Álex de la Iglesia's) black comedy and its saturated palette of fiery reds, acidic greens and dirty yellows brings Jeunet's Amélie to one's mind. There's even a bit of Guy Ritchie's DNA in there as well, yet all of the influences are skillfully assimilated, so you can't help but enjoy this 'chamber thriller' for its increasingly frenzied plotting, cartoonish, over-the-top violence, and edgy, cheeky, satirical self-awareness.

Although the beauty of the visuals have already been hinted at, it won't hurt to add that the film looks absolutely mesmerizing in any given moment, by virtue of the vibrant art direction and DoP Dmitriy Ulyukaev's resourcefulness in finding new camera angles and overcoming set limitations. Now is probably the right time to mention that the great majority of scenes are shot in just one room of Andrey's flat, yet the staginess that is to be expected from such a situation is never felt, and Sokolov's tight editing also helps in keeping the viewer glued to the screen. Another talent the up-and-coming filmmaker demonstrates is grossing you out when he's not reveling in blood, but that you'll have to (un)see yourself...

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