Film Review: Compartment No.6

Laura and Ljoha

It’s good to talk. Sometimes we meet the most fascinating people in the most unlikely circumstances. We also, occasionally, encounter characters we wish we hadn’t. On the face of it, a film which focuses on this kind of rendezvous may not exactly be particularly cinematic for obvious reasons, but that never stopped the likes of Yasujirō Ozu or Richard Linklater making masterpieces. Indeed, like Before Sunrise, girl meets boy on a train in Compartment No.6.

Laura (Seidi Haarla) came to Russia to learn the language but ended up finding love with a sophisticated Muscovite, Natalia (Yuliya Aug). However, their planned trip to Murmansk to see the ancient rock carvings has turned out to be a solo journey for the Finnish woman. They were meant to travel together but work got in the way. Much to her chagrin, she’s sharing a compartment with a rough and ready miner and Ljoha (Yuriy Borisov) doesn’t exactly make a good first impression.

Compartment No.6 is a breath of fresh air. Juho Kuosmanen’s follow-up to The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki is rough and ready, but all the better for it. While Hollywood tends to churn out sterilised and stylised romances, the Finnish director prefers to operate in refreshingly grey area. It’s the cleverly-written and assuredly acted relationship between the standoffish Laura and the bullish Ljoha which makes Compartment No.6 so good. That and the stunning cinematography.

Compartment No.6 is out in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema on 8 April.

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