A weather station isolated the in the cold sub-zero north of Russia breaks contact with the outside world. Two detectives come to investigate. One is an older veteran and the other is a very young apprentice. The station appears to be abandoned. The action flashes back to three days before and keeps switching between present and past so the two storylines are told in parallel. Two meteorologists in their fifties gather data. One is content, keeps consistent weather records, and builds elaborate sculptures from matchsticks. The other is more dominating and is more of a catalyst when intrigue conspires. Their nineteen year old houseboy cooks and cleans and hides. Into this very secluded environment comes a couple who want to go cave exploring as part of an anniversary. He’s in his early forties and she’s a very attractive thirty. The houseboy instantaneously has the hots for her. Motivations are not what they seem. People’s character can turn on the flip of a dime.
Cross cutting between timelines often is clever. In one instance, the older detective puts together a scene based on evidence from a door and then the scene is shown for real from a few days previously. It’s a good storytelling device that makes peeling to the plot’s center more satisfying.
I like how the nineteen year old constantly hides in attics, outdated radio rooms, and many other places. It’s a unique character trait that does not feel derivative and smoothly weaves into the story. The other characters don’t leave such an impression, but how old they are definitely plays into how they relate to each other.
Director Johnny O’Reilly, who is originally from Ireland, understandably chooses a slower moderate pace to reflect life at the station during the first two-thirds. Yet I feel it could have moved at a more brisk pace. If this was fixed it could possibly take the movie to another level. The last third is terrific; it’s an audience pleaser. There are seductions, double crosses, and violence a plenty. There’s something very satisfying about seeing film noir plot twists in a completely different environment. I think it just shows that human flaws of greed, lust, etc. are universal and can translate into almost any place or time.
This solid Russian thriller can please just about anyone. Film Noir fans are in for a pleasant evening.