Monday, April 20, 2009

Roman Prygunov's Solitude of Blood (2002)

Maria is beginning a serious depression. Her husband, Victor, has been gone for three weeks, and Maria is really feeling his loss ("I thought I didn't need friends with Victor around, and now that he's gone, my friends have decided the same thing."). Maria is neglecting her work--she is the inventor of an experimental female fertility drug, and her colleague, Vladimir, is picking up the slack. Vladimir is also willing to replace any other missing facets of her life, if Maria will let him in. Maria lives day by day, slowly floating away from reality. As Maria's drama unfolds, a black-gloved killer is roaming around the city, targeting young women.Roman Prygunov's Solitude of Blood (2002) is a thriller which has as its main protagonist a beautiful, intelligent, and obsessive female character at the helm. Ingeborga Dapkunaite, as Maria, joins fellow actresses, Nanako Matsushima in Hideo Nakata's Ring (1998); Lorenza Indovina in Alex Infascelli's Almost Blue (2000); Naomi Watts in Gore Verbinski's The Ring (2002); and Stefania Rocca in Dario Argento's The Card Player (2004). While the quality of those films varies, all of the films, Solitude included, have strong performances from the female leads. Often the lead performance is the saving grace of the film. Prygunov's film has quite a few additional strong points. However, Dapukunaite's performance is the highlight. In Solitude, the viewer accompanies Maria as she wanders the streets or spends time in her apartment, doing the day-to-day things of life. Prygunov shoots all the scenes with harsh light, giving the surroundings an air of artificiality. Nothing looks real any more, not even at her workplace, where Maria's work involves the creation of life. The use of green hue is a perfect touch. Green is a color synonymous with sickness and its judicious use works. In one of the film's best green scenes, Maria awakens to enter the bathroom. She removes bandages from previous wounds (from a car accident earlier in the film) and begins to cut open her stitches with a straight razor. Maria pulls tape from all of her wounds and completely soaked in blood, she makes a makeshift cassette with an eerie message.The murders in the film and the would-be subplot involving a conspiracy at the lab take a backseat to Maria's decline into depression and madness. Maria eventually uncovers the identity of the killer, but by that time, she has fallen away. The murder scenes are filmed in a very giallo-esque fashion and quite stylish. Although the film is around a hundred minutes, Solitude moves at a leisurely pace, to say the least. At times, this is a strength of the film and at others, a serious weakness. The screenwriter, Pavel Ruminov, pens a very interesting but uneven story. He would go on to write and direct Dead Daughters (2007) to some acclaim. Prygunov constructs some terrific visuals with some simple haunting audio. Above all, this film is worth seeing for Ingeborga Dapkunaite's performance. The closeness that the viewer gets to this character is refreshing, even though it is a descent into madness


Mr.LargePackage said...

Depression, madness, and murder are large and in charge. They have a certain synergy that is interesting.

Alex B. said...

I'm in two minds about this film.
Bookish dialogues and badly developed script coupled with somewhat pretentious overall approach prevent me from calling this a genuinely successful film.
But the undineiably effective sequences and dreamlike atmosphere make me re-visit STEREOBLOOD, almost against my better judgement!

Hans A. said...

@Alex--I think your insightful comment summed up my entire feelings about the film also. Also, anyone lurking should check out Alex's review of the film which, as is all of his work, very good. Thanks again, Alex.