Screen Time: 80%
Role: Lena Bessolceva
Age: 11 years old
Directed: Rolan Bykov
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama
In this cutting though sometimes slow-paced study of children and their ability to be cruel, director Rolan Bykov focuses the eye of the camera on the experiences of a young girl, Lena (Kristina Orbakaite).
When the 12-year-old Lena moves into a new town with her grandfather, they are both ostracized because they are different. He is crotchety and eccentric, a collector of old paintings, and she is too shy and anxious to please the usual friends. When she is blamed for something she did not do, the children decide to go after her with a vengeance -- and that is when the cruelty escalates. As Lena begins to get some backbone to withstand her tormentors, fate is waiting in the wings to help her out just a little.
Movie ReviewsBeing the new kid is never an easy task. Lena seems confident going to school and laughs with the kids who make fun of her grandfather. Dima, a boy in her class whom she likes immediately, is the only one who treats her kindly. Lena's Grandfather is a generous old man who gives his prized painting collection over to the school to use as an art gallery.
Besides the grandfather most of the adults seem to be pretty dumb. The teacher named Margarita comes into the class very enthusiastic as a teacher of grade school should be, but was a bit of an airhead (her wedding was during this time which may serve as a reason, but is doubtful). She seems completely oblivious to what's going on in her class. And how they are treating Lena. At the end of the film when Lena shows Margarita her shaved head, she seems momentarily perplexed, then moves on.
The second adult we are introduced to is one of the student's mother, who is a hairdresser. She apparently has no control over her daughter. We see this in the scene where her daughter is telling her off, as she is angry she did Lena's hair. Her mother does in fact seem clueless, even after she sees how they treat Lena and how they pick on her she really does nothing.
Really what these two specific examples are telling us, is how Bykov wants adults to be viewed here, they are shown as the subordinate. This film is in the kids world, where it revolves around them and their eventful lives, the roles of the adult/child have switched. This support the relationship between Dima and Lena, which seem to be much more mature. The way they talk to each other and act natural that way. Then after Dima's betrayal of Lena, she forgives him, something that may be considered unusual for a kid so young to act with such wisdom.
The whole adult/child role reversal is the key to Bykov's film and what makes it so unique and intriguing.