Film Review: Rhino

Is anyone born evil? The debate around nurture versus nature will likely rumble on in perpetuity, but the environment in which someone grows up plays a huge role in deciding the person they become. That is both in terms of homelife and the society in which the formative years are spent. One bad choice can easily lead to another. Eventually resulting in becoming someone almost completely unrecognisable. Rhino charts the rise and fall of someone who chooses evil.

Rhino (Serhii Filimonov) picked up violence at an early age. Either from his abusive and alcoholic father or his older brother, who died fighting in Afghanistan. With few prospects, he uses what he has. That’s his physicality, penchant for cruelty and nous. Working his way up to a prominent position in the hierarchy of a criminal gang. However, Rhino doesn’t want to play second fiddle to anyone and power is his drug.

The first ten minutes of Rhino feature some of the best filmmaking you’re likely to see this year. It’s a breathtaking sequence which ingeniously shows the audience what made the titular hoodlum the man he is today. The rest of writer/director Oleh Sentsov’s film doesn’t quite live up to the brilliant opening, but it’s a well-made and confidentially acted portrait of violence in post-Soviet Ukraine. While Rhino might feel a little too familiar it has enough of its own personality to make it thoroughly engaging.

Rhino is out in UK on digital download on 16 May.

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