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Wednesday 21 december 20.00 h
Marlen Khutsiev’s “July Rain” has lost none of its radical modernity. Often described as the Soviet version of an Antonioni film, pic follows 28-year-old Lena (Evgeniya Uralova, who bears a vague resemblance to Monica Vitti) through a kind of existential crisis, as she realizes her relationship with perfect boyfriend Volodya (Aleksandr Belyavsky) is empty and their friends are superficial fools.
Lena, an intellectual in her late twenties, is disillusioned by the “philistinism, cynicism and indifference people so often display to one another” (Khutsiev). She drifts apart from her ambitious Volodya, and his circle of phony Moscow careerists, taking comfort in the solitude of her apartment and in intimate telephone conversations with a stranger who showed her kindness in the rain.
Ravishingly photographed in widescreen black and white, July Rain vibrates with life even as it charts the death of young love. Together with its companion piece, I Am Twenty, the film is one of Khutsiev’s most touching statements about modern urban alienation and the craving for human warmth and mutual understanding.
The film captures a moment in time when Soviet life was radically changing, when the joyful camaraderie was turning into modern solitude and emptiness. The images, lensed by German Lavrov in striking B&W, often contrast with the soundtrack, as in the long opening dolly through the streets of Moscow to the accompaniment of radio music.
Made shortly before the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, it is in many ways a prophetic work forecasting the end of the dream of collectivism. This is in notable contrast to Khutsiev’s previous film, “I Am Twenty,” which propounded socialism with a human face.
“Twenty” was violently attacked by Khrushchev, but won a prize at Venice in a cut version. “July Rain” was also invited to Venice, but the authorities refused to send it. It received a very limited release.