Movie Review : Siberian Education

Siberian Education by Gabriele Salvatores with John Malkovich, Arnas Fedaravicius, Vilius Tumalavicius,  Eleanor Tomlinson and Peter Stormare.

The movie is based on the novel “Siberian Education” by Nicolai Lilin.

I usually read the book before watching the movie, but this time as I had no time I just went straight to the movie theatre, intrigued by the plot and reviews I read during the promotion tour of the cast.
So here’s  the story (SPOILER ALLEART)  

In a contested, lawless region known as Transnistria (current Moldova) a tightly knit group of “honest criminals”- exiled there by Stalin - live together respecting strict codes and fierce loyalty. Tattoos tell a man’s life story and authority that is always to be distrusted. Beyond the control of any government and outside the bounds of “society” as we know it, these men uphold values including respect for elders and protection for the most vulnerable people of the community.

The movie’s set between the last years of the Cold War and after the fall of the Soviet Union, where a group of friends grown up as part of a violent clan is known as the “Siberians”.  The protagonists are the following: a  young boy named Kolima that lives under the teachings of his grandfather Kuzya, who teaches him how to live by the strict rules of the Siberian’s clan. The other protagonist is Kolima’s best friend, Gagarin, who wants to lead the group and is very violent.

One night the group of friends tried to steal from a military truck and Kolima got caught. Gagarin eventually saves him but gets arrested and sent away in prison.  Meanwhile, the Berlin Wall falls as well as the Soviet Union and when  Gagarin gets back to his friends and the family, things have changed completely. On the same day of Gagarin’s return a new doctor and his daughter (Xenya) came to town. The girl is mentally handicap and quickly became friend with Kolima.

During the years in prison Gagarin’s nature (already possessive and envious) has changed in a bad way; in fact he’s now  greedy, bully/bossy and wants his opinions to prevail above the others’. He wants everything without thinking and caring of hurting someone; meanwhile Kolima studied as a tattoo artist. One day Gagarin brought Kolima to a meeting with a rival clan, the Black Seed. When Kolima found out who they were, leaves immediately, Gagarin follows him starting have a fight. On the way back home, Kolima gets arrested for violating the curfew and is kept in prison for a while. There he has the chance to practice the art of tattoos on the other prisoners. He gets out thanks to the help of grandfather Kuzya, but only because Xenya got raped and beaten up and Kolima has to find the culprit, because he was in love with Xenya. He finds out that was Gagarin the one who hurted the girl and that he joined a criminal clan that hides on the mountains. The only way for Kolima to find him and make him pay for his mistakes is to joining the army. Eventually Kolima finds Gagaring and the two former best friends have to face their fate.

The movie is completely different from the book. In fact, in the novel the personal and love stories play a minor role. Long story short, in the book it’s all about the part of the education and the criminal life of the protagonist. Of course, the movie had to be based on something more than just a bunch of rules, it would have been a documentary instead.

There’s no way to tell how much I adore John Malkovich and Peter Stormare, Gabriele Salvatores is a brilliant Italian movie director and I’m looking forward to see the future projects of Arnas Fedaravicius, Vilius Tumalavicius and Eleanor Tomlinson.  

I have to admit that the movie got me, in fact I’ve watched it like a million times…Yep! I’m like children, once they start watching a movie they want to watch it over and over and over…To complete my obsession I also started to read the books and follow the author on Twitter.  I’m shameless! Anyway, I recommend it to all of you, it’s really a great movie!!

Raking : 4/5

Link to Nicolai Lilin's blog :

Here’s the trailer! 

No comments