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Student (The)

Russia, Russian, 118 mins

Original Title

(M)uchenik...aka, Le Disciple
  • Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
  • Writer: Kirill Serebrennikov; Marius von Mayenburg
  • Producer: Claudio Bellante; Fabrizio Conte

CGiii Comment

Despite the underlying humour that runs throughout...this is utterly exhausting.

There are so many words...most of them biblical...the relentless preaching does do your head in after a relatively short amount of time...it is the ultimate failing of the film. Kirill Serebrennikov has basically filmed the stage production...a film needs far fewer words than a play!

But...the power of the film is undeniable! Understanding religion is as cryptic as any crossword puzzle can be...

Father, give me strength...I really need strength...because I have to hurt people to make them praise you...

Religious fervour breeds only one thing...hypocrisy...no-one can live within such a debilitating moral code...throw into the mix, teenage idealism...and watch the sparks ignite and fly!

The cruelty that is inflicted upon others in order to preserve the copyright of god is...an abomination. Forget this ridiculous notion of radicalisation...it's preying on the vulnerable with false promises from false gods!

Here, the voice of reason is villified, condemned and accused of false accusation...upheld by the established institutions of education and religion...it's terrifying.

The victimisation of the gay kid is a heartbreak...all in the name of a god, by those who strangle the very life out of individuality and humanity.

As a statement on the education system...over the years, teaching has been so mangled and mutilated, it's now broken...all in the name of incompetence, by those who think they know better!

There's no faulting the performances, all deliver. The words do get in the way of the direction...when the visual is allowed to speak, it speaks volumes! This is a film that will - most certainly - elicit much conversation and debate afterwards...considering it is a Russian production made under the Putin dictatorship...it becomes even more terrifying than it is!!!

It...certainly will...make your blood boil!


The(ir) Blurb...

Venya believes the world is nearing its end. He studies the Bible obsessively, incessantly quoting chapter and verse. His refusal to undress for swimming lessons is the unusual first step on a path to religious fanaticism. Conflict with his mother and classmates develops into a confrontation with his biology teacher Elena, as he objects to Darwinian theories of evolution and ‘modern’ teachings on sex and homosexuality.

Adapted from Marius von Mayenburg’s controversial play ‘Martyr’, Kirill Serebrennikov’s film transfers the action to contemporary Russia, particularly significant given the introduction of mandatory religious education. The film also leads in other directions – to Venya’s conflicted sexuality, anti-Semitism and accusations of sexual molestation by Elena. Set in the coastal city of Kaliningrad, this scathing and satirical work features strong performances (many by the original Moscow stage cast) and derives additional force through Vladislav Opelyants’ inventive cinematography.
Peter Hames

Cast & Characters

Viktoriya Isakova as Elena Krasnova;
Yuliya Aug as Inga Yuzhina;
Pyotr Skvortsov as Veniamin Yuzhin;
Aleksandr Gorchilin as Grigoriy Zaytsev;
Aleksandra Revenko as Lidiya Tkacheva;
Svetlana Bragarnik as Lyudmila Stukalina;
Nikolay Roshchin as Otets Vsevolod;
Anton Vasilev;
Irina Rudniktskaya as Irina Petrovna

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