“You can’t make this up,” you might say, and often, throughout Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie, a 70-minute composite of dash-cam videos that capture the darndest things happening on Russia’s roads. “In Russia, we have the foundation of society. The backbone of society. These hard-working men and women.” So blares the radio as a car approaches another on a putatively two-way street. The cars brake, facing each other as in a western stand-off, and from the car glimpsed by another’s dash-cam video, a man exits, nonchalantly opening his trunk and pulling out a sledgehammer. Charging toward the car with the dash cam, weapon in hand, the man wordlessly stakes his claim to drive on the snow-lined road by forcing the car in front of him to retreat in reverse. Indeed, you can’t make this up, which is why, according to Kalashnikov, more than half of Russia’s drivers have dash cams installed in their vehicles: In a country where the surreal is as prevalent as deceit and corruption, the dash cam is the driver’s insurance policy. This whatsit of a film is often content to lean on famous videos from the YouTube wormhole that capture once-in-a-lifetime events (the meteor that crashed in Chelyabinsk in February of 2013) and Russians improbably surviving vehicular accidents. In a rare goodwill exchange, a man picks up a woman who’s just exited another vehicle that’s now driving away with her personal possessions. The man’s name? Dasha. The woman’s? Pasha. If not for the cavalier way that Pasha calls the other driver a “faggot,” while Dasha drives her to retrieve her belongings, the moment could almost be called a meet-cute. The Road Movie is a doodle, but in its offhanded way, it effectively attests to the resolute nature of the Russian character: men and women who are rarely shocked, imaginative in their vulgarity, stoic even at their most empathetic, and prone to immediately taking up arms at the slightest infraction.
- Oscilloscope Laboratories
- 70 min
- Dmitrii Kalashnikov
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