COMPARTMENT N ° 6 | Film review by Juho Kuosmanen (Cannes 2021)

A young Finnish girl takes a train in Moscow to go to an archaeological site in the Arctic Sea. She is forced to share her compartment with a stranger. This cohabitation and improbable encounters will gradually bring these two beings who are in opposition to each other.

Film critic

Juho kuosmanen is undoubtedly one of the least known names among the directors present in competition at Cannes in 2021. He had nevertheless delighted the official selection in 2016 by winning the Grand prize In some perspective with his Olli Mäki, story of a boxer with a particularly polished style, and worked in a sumptuous black and white. This first success earned him to be on the radar of the largest Cannes selection and succeed in the performance of entering the competition from the second feature film. For this, it moves both geographically and temporally. The film is set in Russia, following a Finnish woman who came to study and learn the language. It’s hard to say when the action is taking place – perhaps in the 1990s – as cell phones are not yet one of the obvious signs of dating a story.

If the introduction takes place in Moscow in a large apartment where the young woman rents a room, it is in a long-distance train crisscrossing the country that we are going to follow her adventures. Laura was to go on this trip with her girlfriend, who is also her landlady, but it is ultimately alone that she undertakes the journey. From the first scenes, the discomfort between them is perceptible, everything seems to indicate that Irina wants to get rid of her to find herself alone in her apartment. More than a healthy relationship, Irina’s gaze is an addiction, an engine that is poisonous. Malaise pervades every shot of this first half of the film where Laura’s smile never emerges from her face which remains tirelessly closed.

Polar express

The meeting of a young Russian who is a little too focused on alcohol does not help, he is his only traveling companion over several days of travel and his terminus. The anguish is rising and the story could have gone in many other directions. The author plays on this ambivalence at the first stop in Saint Petersburg. The temptation to turn back was only curbed by a phone call made to Irina which prevented her from returning to Moscow. The feeling of not being wanted is stronger than the fear of loneliness. Beauty intervenes when Laura finally decides to let go, to abandon her misfortune on a snowy road in the middle of nowhere, to finally embrace the moment. The polarity therefore seems to be reversed, the boorish dead drunk man appears as if draped in a new humanity, with a humor that sets the senses ablaze.

The looks seek each other, the frustration sets in, and then begin the most interesting moments of the film, thwarting all that one believed to have understood of the characters. The fragility displayed by man is surprising. He is by turns jealous, forbidden, to end up refusing the one who shares this moment of grace with him. The incomprehension between them is intense, and Juho Kuosmanen likes to play with his actors to succeed in creating surprise in a story that seems very simple. The fusional pinnacle of their relationship comes in a captivating blizzard scene. If we are worried about them, they play like children in the middle of recess, without calculations or wanting the next day.

If the scope of the film remains moderate, it is a very beautiful moment of cinema Nevertheless, once again consecrating the beauty of romances set in a train, the matrix of many films of the genre. Juho Kuosmanen makes a very successful second attempt that refreshes the scalded soul with a story of great simplicity that is expressed in both body and words. Compartment 6 is a sensitive and touching film which deserves to make known to the wider world both the name of its director, but also the Finnish cinema which shines too little internationally.


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2021 – De Juho Kuosmanen, awith Yuriy Borisov, Seidi Haarla, Dinara Drukarova

Cannes 2021 – Official competition

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