Close Up

16 October 2019: Brief Encounters


Brief Encounters
Kira Muratova, 1967/1987, 95 min
Russian with English subtitles

"Shelved for 20 years by Soviet censors, Muratova’s first solo feature contains the building blocks of her experimental style including the use of flashbacks, a lack of clear or conventional narrative, montages of still photographs and audio discontinuities. Focusing on the woman’s realm, and depicting a love triangle between a provincial bureaucrat (played by Muratova), a wandering geologist and a country girl trying her luck in the city, this is nevertheless a documentary-like portrayal of Soviet life highlighting the divide between the urban intelligentsia and the under-privileged peasants." – Melbourne Cinematheque

"Muratova's genius is for intimate dramas, treated with an experimental, unpredictable naturalness that penetrates to the level of human vulnerability. Muratova stars in Brief Encounters with the late Vladimir Vyssozki, a popular dissident folk singer who was officially ostracized and came to a dissolute end. (He has posthumously been celebrated within the counter culture as a tragic figure.) The film concerns an urban planner (Muratova) obsessed with the housing shortage, her geologist lover (Vyssozki), and their housekeeper (Nina Ruslanova) who discovers the often absent lover to be none other than her first love, for whom the flame still burns. But he is a rather romantic figure, a kind of intellectual vagabond usually represented in their flat only by his guitar hanging on the wall, so the two women have much time and freedom to share their memories, dreams and jokes. In an intricate, elliptical narrative, Muratova develops – partly through the eyes of the housekeeper-the fact of an enduring love between this long-standing couple despite the exigencies of their unconventional living situation." – BAMPFA

Part of our season on Kira Muratova