Digital HD: Sputnik (2020)
With this theatrical directorial debut, Egor Abramenko’s Sputnik was due to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic, leading to it being released on video-on-demand in Russia in April this year.
It tells the story of two Russian cosmonauts in 1983 who are returning to earth in a capsule when something happens outside their ship. The ship crash lands and only one cosmonaut survives, while the other has his head caved in.
The surviving cosmonaut Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov), appears to have something ‘wrong’ with him, so imprisoning him in a facility his commanding officer Colonel Semiradov (Fyodor Bondarchuk) asks controversial psychiatrist Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) to find out what is wrong with him. She later witnesses Konstantin pass out on the floor, and unknown to him, a full size alien come out of his mouth.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
Not all Russian films are grey in colour and bleak in mood (Why Don’t You Just Die being a wonderful technicolour example) but this film, based in the cold war, can’t really escape its grim outlook due to the place and time and context.
There is a lot of deep subtext about his abandonment of a child and the cosmonaut not being the national hero he’s made out to be, in order to stress him and separate the entity from his body. But of course the army are bad, and have been feeding the alien people much to the doctor’s horror. By now she is in a ‘caring’ relationship with Konstatin, and tells him that he has a parasitic alien creature inside him and it’s all going to end in tears. My tears.
I suppose the only way for me to describe this film is…it’s okay.
Nothing ground breaking and so similar to other alien films that have come before. Its strength IS its alien-ness, and by that I mean the fact that’s its Russian, that those cold stark vistas and steamy breath give you a sense of otherworldliness right here on earth.
I’ve read other rave reviews for the relationship between the doctor and cosmonaut, but he seems to be the strong silent type and she’s no Ripley so I think perhaps lockdown has made people who get paid to review films so desperate they’re confused.
So not a complete waste of time but not a classic sci-fi.
(If you want a sci-fi film that’s a bit different try Aniara)
Review by Tina from a screening link kindly supplied by Fetch Publicity.