A cinematic poem blends image, music, locations and characters into a unique fresco of old Russia, still alive in some far away, forgotten corners of this immense country, next to the most sophisticated rocket bases of the Russian army. The entire film was shot in a remote village up north, whose only connection with the outer world is the postman, Liokha, who takes his boat, crosses the vast river next to the village and goes to the nearby town, to bring not only the post but everything else the villagers might need, including their monthly pensions. Using an almost entirely non-professional cast, Andrei Konchalovsky clearly prefers carefully drawn human sketches like Liokha’s flirt with Irina and his relations with her son, Timur, to one distinct narrative line. If at all, the most dramatic event here arrives when Liokha’s boat is stolen and he can no longer perform the duties that gave sense to his life. But the beauty of the place, the glorious photography and the humanity of the characters beats everything else.
Andrei Konchalovksy (born 1937) is one of the greatest Russian directors, son of one of the noblest families in the country and brother of actor and director Nikita Michalkov. He first drew attention to himself as the screenwriter of Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev”, he got in trouble with the Soviet censors with “Assia’s Story” (1967) which was released only 25 years later, but was nevertheless allowed to go on and direct less controversial subjects, including adaptations of Russian classics such as Turgenyev’s “A Nest of gentle Folks”and Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya”. After the tremendous success of his saga, “Siberiade” (1979) which won a Special Jury Prize in Cannes, he moved to the west and started making movies in US, such as “Maria’s Lovers” (1984), “Runaway Train” (1985) and “Shy People”(1987). Back in Moscow, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he goes on to direct both in the east and the west, not only cinema but also theatre. His film, “The Postman’s White Nights” was awarded a Special Jury Prize in Venice 2014, and he won Best Director Prize in Venice 2018 for “Ray”. Since 2013 he is the President of the Russian Film Academy.