29th Kilometer indie film


★★

Directed by Leonid Andronov Starring Evgeny Chistyakov, Sergey Fedorov, & Andrey Karlyshev Indie Film Review by Phil Slatter


Haven’t we all, at some point or another, dreamed of being a rock star? Much like being a professional athlete or A-List Hollywood star, it’s the sort of pipe dream to which many can relate but crucially that very few actually manage to achieve and it forms the basis of Leonid Andronov’s uneven but at times thought-provoking drama.

Dubbed ‘The first Russian underground rock n roll drama’, the basis of the story is a failed rock group that meet up every ten years for a party. Yet over time, things have changed, life has happened and few of them really want to go to the reunion and think about how their dreams haven’t really come to fruition.

As a basic premise, this sets up the film well for its thematic overtones – looking back on first love, a time before responsibility and a simple if entirely unrealistic plan of how the band as going to make it big and Andronov explores these themes well. Where, did it all go wrong?

Interspersed with this through-line are visual flashes of the band in their prime and this is where, on a technical level, the film excels. The images and music work well together to create a film that is full of many ideas, a lot of them both extremely original and impressive.

Unfortunately, this also highlights the shortcomings. It feels somewhat experimental at times and juxtaposes the home movie aesthetic of the central plot strand. This may well be intentional but every time we cut back to the band in the now it’s a noticeable change and it doesn’t help that the main plot eventually runs out of anywhere to go as the characters become somewhat unlikeable and un-involving and the acting falls flat at times.

Your patience becomes tested at times as things enter a dark third act that feels like a forced way to create a dramatic conclusion.

It’s a shame in many ways as there is much to admire, both thematically and visually. So while 29th Kilometer doesn’t quite work, there is more than enough evidence that the filmmakers could achieve better things with a script that engages the audience more with the characters and develops its central plot in a more involving, and believable manner.

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