Compartment No. 6
In Russian and Finnish
1 hr 47 min
Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Saturday Dec 10 @ 7pm
@ Methodist Church
201 West Martina St (side door)
(off West Richmond)
An Empathetic Depiction beyond
by Pat Brown July 31, 2021 Film Educator, Germany
Juho Kuosmanen’s film interestingly thrives off of an ironic
juxtaposition of character and environment.
The road movie is traditionally built on the tension between the freedom of the open highway and the confinement of the car. While its characters can theoretically go anywhere they want, they’re also stuck together.
Director Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 dispenses with the illusion of openness as the setting is a story of forced interpersonal bonding against the difficulties of a long train journey through post-Soviet Russia. Compartment No. 6’s lightly comic depiction of individuals at odds coming to a mutual understanding and even affection for one another may not be unique in outline, but the film is distinguished by Kuosmanen’s
The film’s main character, Laura is a rudderless Finn living in Moscow who’s decided that she needs to see the petroglyphs inscribed on rocks on the shores of Murmansk, the largest town above the Arctic Circle as a gesture of inclusion towards her lover Irina, an archeology professor.
Through the development of her relationship with her random compartment mate, Vadim, new dimensions not only of Laura butof the film’s seemingly drab world emerge, seeing pay phones and the train’s aged wood paneling.
We first understand Laura as the character who’s being put upon,by her girlfriend Irina’s hoity-toity academic friends back in Moscow, by the stern
personnel she encounters on the train, and by Vadim, whose initial encounter with her involve a drunken, invasive touch when he’s trying to teach her a dirty
Russian word, which understandably sends her running to the refreshments car for some solitude.
The viewer gradually gleans that Laura is prone to closing herself off to the world by hiding in a safe-but ultimately illusory relationship with Irina, who
signals that she’s not that into their relationship including abandoning her at the last minute on their trip to Murmansk. To avoid Vadim, Laura tellingly spools up footage on her camera of Irina’s social events—where, as we
see in the first scene, she had actually felt uncomfortable and out of place. Yet, everything looks better in the muted tones of 8mm video, it would seem.
Left alone then, Laura reluctantly opens herself to the sobered-up Vadim’s overtures of friendship, even going so far as following him on a visit to his
babushka during an overnight stop.
We come to realize the slightly shady but good-hearted Vadim, whose vodka-fueled boasting may be its own kind of shield against the outside world. As both Laura and Vadim open up, a mutual affection rapidly grows that’s made more believable by the way that this Russian miner fills in his character’s rough edges with a quiet woundedness.
In terms of its story about a difficult trip and the friends made along the way, Compartment No. 6 doesn’t reinvent the (rail) wheel, but the way it expands the story into one of cross-cultural understanding while also pulling us gently into it’s complex characters makes it one of the most interesting variations on the “it’s the journey not the destination” narrative.
Generosity, friendship, togetherness – themes formerly impossible as their unexpected relationship provides the viewer a transformative experience
in trying the impossible.
General Admission TICKETS
General Admission $15
On-line to 5pm day of film
Cash Only at Door
Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Film Starts at 7pm
Members Seating 6:30
General Admission Seating 6:45
after the film
Members pay $12
to the month they join
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Come for FREE!
Volunteers are the core support
film night, before and after the film.
Taking tickets, set-up and packing-out
equipment, stacking chairs,
and helping with snacks.
Volunteers get in for free
for helping before and after the film!
Please contact Kate at
510-232-2559 Opt #3