Filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov is one of the greatest hopes for the Russian film industry. This year, his movie The Student made in the famous category “Un Certain Regard” of the Cannes Filmfestival in France. This section of the festival welcomes special films next to the official program. Some arising artists in the international film world are lucky enough to be chosen for a premiere screening at the festival.
The plot of The Student
The Student is a controvers story about a schoolboy who chose to follow an extreme religious Lifestyle. First the teenager Veniamin appears to be shy and quiet, though always maintains a magical and mysterious aura, which is developing in an extreme way during the movie.
Veniamin is changing, he barely talks and denies swim classes in school – no one knows why. Teachers and school officials are concerned about their student and his mother almost freaks out. Next to being a single mom she has to handle three jobs at a time.
Soon it becomes clear that Veniamin is undergoing a religious transformation. He converts to a orthodox Christ, who continuously interrupts the ongoing classes with quotation from the Bible. The whole school is suffering from his unexpected and provocative attitude. Needless to say that his mom almost becomes crazy.
The film deals with multiple issues that are collectively related to todays political and religious development in the whole world. In the light of the contemporary life in Russia, topics about the believe in god, hypocrisy and religious extremism are covered in beautiful contrast.
All roles in the movie pretend to be religious. Many of them try to be a good Christ and seem to be easily influenceable by Veniamins believes. When he demanded a prohibition of bikinis due to reasons stated in the Bible, school officials went along and followed his aggressive request. Many people in his surrounding do not dare to question his motives or believes, they find reasons themselves to support Bibles words.
Apparently only his biology teacher sees through his obsession. She believes in science and evidence, which obviously leads into staggering discussions about god, evolution and sex. Though the orthodox believer does not tolerate any other views on their world. A harmonic life between strict religion and scientific theories appears to be impossible.
The biology teacher tries to approach the situation with common ground. So she studies the Bible as much as he does and finds counter quotes against his. But nothing can move him from his passionate path to religious fulfilment. He seems to be unstoppable and not forgiving whatsoever.
An intense movie
Petr Skvortsov plays the role of the orthodox believer. A great performance that shines especially through his loud and demanding voice. The beautiful Victoria Isakova is playing a teenage girl with style. She is attracted by his passionate path and makes the whole cinema hold its breath.
With long shots and a realistic portrait of a Russian society the audience feels to be a part of the surprising development of Veniamin. Especially his dialogues impressed: he (almost) only talked in quotes from the bible.