I went into DOM-A RUSSIAN FAMILY without hearing feedback from anyone and with
no knowledge of the film beyond the synopsis. This is my absolute favorite way
to see a film, with zero preconceived notions and merely a hint at the subject
The story takes place in rural Russia and revolves around four generations of
the Shamanov family all living together in their huge farmhouse. They are
preparing for a large family gathering to celebrate the birthday of grandpa
Shamanov. Members of the family begin to trickle in, but it is big brother
Stepan's surprise appearance after years of absence that is met with reverence
as well as some discontent. Soon we learn that Stepan's long ago departure from
his family home involved a stint in the big house followed by a career path as a
crime boss. As one might guess, his sudden trip home has more purpose than
simply celebrating his grandpa's birthday, and inevitably the problems that
Stepan is trying to escape end up knocking on his family's door.
Amid this tale of a retreating bad guy is another even more captivating study of
the various dynamics between all the various relatives in the Shamanov family.
It is obvious from the get go that a palpable level of tension exists between
the four brothers. They grew up under the scrutiny of their abusive father and
no nonsense babushk-wearing mother. Though the sisters don't seem to face the
same sort of rivalry as their brothers, they too deal with a fair share of
personal strife. All of the siblings stories slowly unfold as Stepan reconnects
with each of them one by one.
The most prominent character in the film isn't a Shamanov at all. The farmhouse
and remote setting of the Russian steppes seem like characters themselves. You
get the idea that the huge compound-like home in the isolated countryside has
many untold stories contained in its somewhat ramshackle construction. When the
shit finally hits the fan, the house is just as much a part of the action as its
I'm not sure what kind of an American release DOM-A RUSSIAN FAMILY is going to
get, but I surely recommend checking it out when you see it come around.
I'll be back again soon with more reviews from Fantasic Fest '12.