1986 Image


By Andrew Stover | January 26, 2020

1986 is a short-lived entity, operating within the realm of slow-building intrigue and tension, and foregrounding an engrossing lead who wears a myriad of faces. Daria Mureeva’s soberly formidable lead performance as Elena captivates the screen. Throughout, Elena chooses her words carefully, and she doesn’t wholly divulge what she’s feeling (at least until her emotions can’t be contained any longer). That said, Elena’s facial expressions become progressively nuanced, and a collection of lingering close-ups or medium shots underline her expressive movements with effortless grace or immobility.

Philipp Baben der Erde’s moody, grey-hued cinematography can be delightfully vast and hauntingly close. Through a series of overhead shots, the uninhabited lands around Chernobyl are beautifully captured. Whereas the confines of a train cart, or a truck’s interior, forcefully positions the camera near Elena’s seemingly cryptic face.

“…a strangely sedate and almost-deadly dream of naturalistic beauty, relationship doom, and familial unrest.”

When Elena is offered a job that’ll pay $7,000, she takes it. This time, she must obtain the material from the Ukrainian side of the zone. The second half exposes the glaring imperfections of Elena and Viktor’s relationship, while also deploying a more inspired Elena to garner enough cash to free her father (who’s accused by the tax police of evading $30,000 in taxes on sales of scrap metal and steel). Unfortunately, for young Elena, the people around her keep on letting her down. For a 77-minute drama, a number of relationship issues are carried out. Regrettably, when the conclusion comes along, there’s a clear paucity of impact — predominantly because the final moments are unnecessarily rushed, and the chemically enhanced nature that surrounds Elena is left unexplored. Maybe that’s the point, and perhaps Elena is the only one allowed to venture through the radioactive field because she yearns for freedom, and we would be intruding. Even if that’s the case, the ephemeral runtime does no favors for Elena’s trek and the multiple relationship hurdles she faces, especially when she gets to the point of no return.

Lothar Herzog’s 1986  is a strangely sedate and almost-deadly dream of naturalistic beauty, relationship doom, and familial unrest. It may not incorporate the anticipated surges of blood or thoroughly scrutinize every remaining thread. Still, this technically impressive feature will immerse you into a dour world where the rich characters and precarious setting yields a hypnotic atmosphere of dread and uncertainty.

1986 screened at the Slamdance Film Festival.


1986 (2020)

Directed and Written: Lothar Herzog

Starring: Daria Mureeva, Evgeni Sangadzhiev, Vitali Kotovitski, Alexei Filimonov, Helga Filippova, Alexei Kravchenko, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

1986 Image

"…After her father is arrested, Elena implores that she be allowed to carry out loads and shipments to do her part."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon