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The Whaler Boy

By Bobby LePire | January 13, 2022

Written and directed by Philipp Yuryev, The Whaler Boy follows teenager Leshka (Vladimir Onokhov), who lives in a small whaling community nestled along the Bering Strait. The isolated village is spellbound when they finally get access to the internet. Leshka and his best friend, Kolyan (Vladimir Lyubimtsev), use it to look at cam girls online.

Leshka becomes obsessed with one of them, Hollysweet999 (Kristina Asmus). As the days go by and he, his family, and the village start to hunt whales, Leshka’s infatuation with the cam girl grows into a rage-filled delusion. The 15-year-old convinces himself that Kolyan is now a rival for Hollysweet999’s attention and affections. As the mania in him grows even more, Leshka vows to make it to the United States and meet her in real life. Does he achieve his dream, or can Leshka snap out of it?

The Whaler Boy is Yuryev’s feature-length debut, after only one previous short film. If one didn’t know, they’d never guess it as the drama is an assured and confident effort on all fronts. For starters, the story keeps things relatively simple. While this does mean supporting players, including Kolyan, don’t possess much depth, it also streamlines the proceedings as the plot never gets bogged in anything extraneous.

Leshka becomes obsessed with…Hollysweet999.”

Secondly, the cast is terrific. Onokhov, in his debut role, carries the entire thing with the right amount of naivety, anger, and determination. There’s a moment where he’s psyching himself up during a craze-filled rage in which the actor walks the thin line between revolting and hypnotic. It is a fascinating and layered performance that should lead to several more worthy projects.

Lyubimtsev is also quite good. He and Onokhov feel like real friends, and his rambunctious antics allow for some levity to break through now and then. As Leshka’s grandfather, Nikolay Tatato is quite memorable, despite the small size of the role. The same goes for Arieh Worthalter as the border patrol agent. Asmus is appropriately sexy and beautiful, and as such, it is easy to see why someone like the main character would become obsessed with her.

But, the greatest asset to The Whaler Boy is the cinematography by Mikhail Khursevich and Yakov Mironichev. The film is a true work of art, as the visuals are grand and fuel the emotional core of the protagonist’s journey. Every frame is gorgeous, from the amazing at sea shots of whale hunting to the landscape swallowing Leshka as he treks toward his destiny. The look enhances everything, and the filmmaker wisely puts it front and foremost for the duration of the 93-minute runtime. When coupled with Krzysztof A. Janczak’s stirring score, the film proves to be a true auditory and ocular sensation.

The Whaler Boy is an engaging, somewhat fraught look at coming-of-age, sexual awakening, and a broken mind. Onokhov brings the role to mesmerizing life and is supported by a good secondary cast, though they’re playing thinly written parts. But, the epic look and majesty of the visuals carry this drama over any rough waters it occasionally hits.

For more information on The Whaler Boy, check out its official site.

The Whaler Boy (2022)

Directed and Written: Philipp Yuryev

Starring: Vladimir Onokhov, Vladimir Lyubimtsev, Kristina Asmus, Nikolay Tatato, Arieh Worthalter, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

The Whaler Boy Image

"…the visuals are grand and fuel the emotional core of the protagonist's journey."

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