GODLESS

— by Jeff Schultz

[Special dispatch from the 27th annual Tromsø Film Festival]

> Dramas about corruption and the enduring scars of Communism in former Soviet republics are something of a staple. Here, we’re “treated” to the story of Gana, an amoral, morphine-addicted, dead-inside health care worker who embezzles from her mostly dementia-ridden home care patients by stealing their cash and identity cards, which she sells on the black market. Gana takes no pleasure from this; nor does she need the money since she has no interests, personal or material. Her emptiness is an abyss, captured in endless long takes of her inexpressive face, which yet expresses the black chasm behind it. This, thanks to what almost counts as a silent movie performance from a remarkable actress named Irena Ivanova. (GODLESS appears to be her only credit.)
> The possibility of redemption arises by way of a patient who unexpectedly touches a chord (literally, through sacred music) in Gana. But you know from the outset this will not end well for either of them, and if you have the patience to stay through to the end (a number of the audience did not) you’ll see you were right– although the sudden change of scene in the final few minutes are so baffling, either I missed an earlier reference or the director simply went insane.

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