Durak, uncompromising portrait of a modern day hero
by Muriel Del Don
- The third feature film from the young Russian director Yury Bykov amazes thanks to a moving story with bright tones
Screened in the official competition at the 67th edition of the Locarno Film Festival, Durak (The Fool) [+see also:
interview: Yury Bykov
film profile] by Yury Bykov, is the portrait of a seemingly “normal” man who decides to follow his own conscience, his quest for integrity, despite the difficulties and the corruption of a world gone astray. Our hero is called Dima Nikitin, a simple and honest father who works as a plumber to pay university tuition. His is an apparently banal life, in a small Russian city with soulless architecture. One night like any other, Nikitin receives an emergency call to a residential-dormitory complex where the plumbing has suddenly exploded putting the residents in serious danger. It’s a micro-society made up of alcoholics, social outcasts and ill-treated women. Nikitin is appalled at the fact that the building is in a disastrous state, ready to collapse. All of the occupants must be evacuated but no-one sees to this. The city mayor and his gang of corrupt bureaucrats prefer to get high at a decadent birthday party, to put it mildly. Our hero has no intention of abandoning his mission and decides to embark upon a crusade from which he won’t emerge unscathed.
As the director himself said, the inspiration for his third feature film came to him almost suddenly, during a stay in his home country. The architecture, the buildings that dominate the landscape immediately struck him because of their declining state and their dirty and crumbling walls. The inhabitants of these concrete monsters constantly complain about the deplorable state of their homes which are occasionally patched up and repaired in a precarious way so as to seem apparently “sound”. The reality is quite the opposite and these superficial measures only serve to worsen a town-planning situation that is already on the brink of explosion. The state has no intention of allocating additional financing for the construction of new housing and public money is squandered unscrupulously. The situation is catastrophic and it no longer allows the “ordinary” worker to live in a decent home.
Nikitin represents the conscience of this society gone astray where the individual fights for his own survival, blinded by the fear and violence that surround him. Despite everything, our hero decides to go against the grain by following his own principles, by choosing to be faithful to his own ideals of equality and selflessness. His struggle might lead to his own downfall but his soul will remain intact. The apparent madness that fuels him is nothing more than a reaction to the indifference and cynicism of a society that has nothing left to offer. With Durak Yury Bykov shows us that light comes not from outside but from within us, from the strength and courage of individuals. Artem Bystrov’s acting is remarkable; he gives the character a melancholic air of a truly successful romantic hero.
Durak is produced by Rock Films.
(Translated from Italian)