Article by Antonio Congias
Translation by Eleonora Torrisi
The colossal shadow of wind turbines looms intermittently over Maria Lukyanova’s face, the protagonist of Grace, as if to recall the centrifugal rage by which she is invested.
She closes her eyelids and imagines an escape from the van in which she has lived for as long as she can remember and where her father (Gela Chitava), has placed his last hopes. A dwelling where father and daughter travel through Russia’s remote provinces, screening old films in villages where the internet has not yet taken over. For the protagonist, the escape from her father and consequently from their life as a nomad – or rather, as «travelers», as the man points out – materializes in the sea, which she can only dream about through the images of female swimmers in an old television set and in the plastic attractions of a water park inside a shopping mall.
«A paradox, isn’t it? Knowing the future makes it inevitable» asserts the father in one of his rare dialogues with his daughter. That’s right, a paradox, which engulfs Grace’s narrative, deciphered and fatalistic from the beginning, a daughter’s quest for estrangement which becomes a pretext for Ilya Povolotsky: an opportunity to contemplate a Russia far removed from the common imagination of the present. An unprecedented Russia, which echoes Andrei Tarkovsky’s aesthetics, but shows the never-healed scratch of that distant December 1991, which is ultimately the point of the transgenerational confrontation between father and daughter. The images by Ilya Povolotsky and Nikolay Zheludovich (director of photography) are incisive in capturing with long movements and zooms the glum and bleak landscapes, in which father and daughter mingle in the Transcaucasian crossing to the Barents Sea Tundra.
An iconography of Russia that becomes a translation of the moment before the unpleasant crash, told through a tale of whims between father and daughter – it is no coincidence that the original title of Grace is “Blazh”, “a whim” (or “capriccio”) – whose only resolution is the inexorable fate to which they have been appointed – just like the women who fallaciously try to cure their father’s sadness, like the ruined buildings tailed by the red-brown van, like the plague of fish in the Bartens Sea and, finally, like the surrender to the inevitability of death in the final confrontation between mother and daughter.