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average rating is 4 out of 5


Jason Knight


Posted on:

Apr 23, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Anastasia Norenko
Written by:
Anastasia Norenko
Ivan Shibanov, Eduard Chekmazov

A desperate man enters a church, seeking redemption.


It is late 19th century Russia and a priest (Chekmazov) is inside a large church by himself at night-time. Suddenly, he hears a noise and turning around he sees a man (Shibanov) stumbling towards him. The stranger appears to be deeply upset and has blood stains on his clothing. He then goes on to explain the reasons behind his arrival and to ask whether there is hope for him to save his soul.


This is a dark, sinister and dramatic short story about an extraordinary encounter following a terrible event. The film begins with peacefulness, with the priest going about his business and it is when the unknown man enters the scene that the atmosphere changes dramatically. The man has an alarming appearance, sweating and bloodied clothes and wastes no time in revealing that he is suffering, that he has committed a vile act and that he demands to know whether his actions can be forgiven. The core of the film is the long monologue that the stranger embarks on, which divulges his state of mind, his deeds and his perspective regarding his current situation.


As the dramatic monologue is the center here, Shibanov's performance is vital in order for this short to have an effect, and he succeeds perfectly. The entire film was shot as one ten-minute-long take and Shibanov utterly steals the show, playing a damaged and religious man who is on the edge of insanity. His acting is dynamic and his character painfully totters around the large hall as he speaks, either looking at the priest or images of saints or Jesus. His character is pitiful and menacing at the same time.


As mentioned, this short is one long take and Norenko executes that outstandingly, moving the camera around Shibanov and capturing the beautiful interior of the church. The whole narrative takes place inside the church and filming it as one long take makes it look like a play.


The mise-en-scene deserves commendations due to the clothing and the church's belongings, with candles used to light the place and Dmitriy Gorevoy's cinematography creates a darkened and melancholic environment, which becomes more impactful because of the ominous music.


This is a dark story about the aftermath of a devastating tragedy and focuses on the emotions of the perpetrator. The film addresses religion, death and regrets and has many great aspects, however, it is Shibanov's acting that adds the most significant value. It might be fair to point out that it could have had a better conclusion as it ends abruptly. Nevertheless, Norenko has made a film worthy of significant praise, just as she did with On the Third Step.

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Short Film, World Cinema
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