The Fool / Durak – New Directors/New Films

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The Fool/Durak
Writer-Director-Editor-Composer: Yury Bykov
Director of Photography: Kirill Klepalov
116 minutes, Russia, 2014, DCP
Sat 03/21/2015 9:15 PM
Walter Reade Theater, NYC

Cast: Artem Bystrov, Nataliya Surkova, Boris Nevzorov, Kirill Polukhin, Darya Moroz, Yury Tsurilo, Irina Nizina, Alexander Korshunov, Maxim Pinsker

“The lives of hundreds of the dregs of society are at stake in this stark, grotesque portrait of a new Russia on the verge of catastrophe…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Today it is the honest men who are the fools.

Called at midnight to check out a pipe leak in a decrepit housing project, plumber and engineering student Dima (Artyom Bystrov) discovers that the building is going to collapse, perhaps before dawn.

Darya Moroz and Artem Bystrov in The Fool
Darya Moroz and Artem Bystrov in The Fool

Against the objections of his wife (Darya Moroz) — who realizes that exposing the crack in the building, and the corruption that caused it, will destroy any chance of a normal life for their family — Dima resolves to track down the mayor (Natalya Surkova) in the wee hours of her 50th birthday party, attended by all the city’s venal officials.

Yury Bykov’s multiple-prizewinner at Locarno channels Dostoyevsky by way of Sidney Lumet. Brutal cinematography and crackling sound design are matched by bone-chilling dialogue that survives translation:

“Why do you even care about these lowlifes?”

“If the building collapses, I don’t care. This is not a life.”

“We live like animals and die like animals because we don’t mean anything to each other.”

Dima just wants to save the lives of 840 derelict souls. In his world, and ours, that makes him a fool. The building will fall, or not, and he can do nothing to change that.

There is no excuse for The Fool not to have theatrical distribution in the U.S.  With halfway competent marketing, it will fill seats, make money, and start people talking about important issues.