"Beyond the steppes" tells the story of a woman's forced journey to the steppes of Central Asia. Nina, a young Polish woman, is deported with her baby by the Soviet Army in 1940, to the deep hostile lands of the USSR. She has to work in a sovkhoz under the control of the Russian political police. When her child becomes ill, she leaves on a search to find medications with a group of Kazakh nomads. The film draws the intimate and personal experience of this woman, as she's forced into exile, struggling against the extreme conditions of this inhuman land.Written by
Cliché' trope pablum. This attempted "story" (?) about 1 woman's WW2 experience felt like an irksome and irritating test of patience from start to finish.....to watch. There is no action, outside of a wagon team running a mid-distance horizon with snowy peaks in the background (1 shot, very nice) or maybe another scene of wind blowing across a prairie of knee high grass (another nice landscape shot). The rest of this self-indulgent snooze-fest seemed like discontented women crying every once in awhile, punctuated by very, very long, silent stretches of no dialog at all. I'm sorry but in my opinion, women crying is not even "Acting", or even entertaining, it's just tediously repetitive and tiresome, and boring. I asked myself many times, "Why am I even watching this?.......maybe it will get better?" It does not get better. This is not entertainment. There is no plot being developed, no surprises, there is no humor, no characters becoming transformed. The male characters are almost universally objectified as boorish pigs, and the women.......selfish drama queens all (except 1 elderly Kazakh). Ugh! It's shallow and monotonous to endure, and never goes anywhere. It simply doesn't deliver. The whole directorial attitude reeks of navel-gazing in the American-style pouty feminist-strain, obsessed with its own narcissism.
We see a low budget "labor camp", that produces nothing and women shoveling sand, but we have no idea what they are digging for. We see women trying incompetently to shovel coal from a pile (how did it get there?), like they've never used shovels before. This paints Polish women as weak, incompetent and bitchy, Russian women as uncaring obstructionists, and the DP amateurish. There is heat-wave distortion flickering across many of the interior shots. Nobody seemed hungry/starving or even cold. This lacks a lot that more skillful hands would have made the effort to flesh out. Much could have been done here, and should be done telling the story/stories of the Poles who were deported to labor camps by the Soviets during WW2. This, sadly, falls far short of that. 2 stars is generous. I want my 80 minutes back. This was just poor film-making on many levels. Simply put, it's not "haunting" as the jacket claims, it's just a slow-motion, low-budget, bore, that tries to piggyback on other people's tragedy. ZZZZZZZzzz. But, hey, if that's your thing then this might be for you.
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