Kolya is an ordinary Russian (which means, among other things, that he drinks way too much) who is getting fucked over by a corrupt mayor, and corrupt city council, and a corrupt Church. They want his miserable .66 acre and the house he built that stands on it, and they will bring the whole weight of authority down on his head to get it. And guess what? They get it, and he goes to prison.
I know most of this from reading the summary at Wiki. We paused at the thirty-minute mark and agreed we really weren’t in the mood for another two hours of this. The message here is that the bad guys, the powerful guys, always win, and once they come after you, you are fucked. Even if this is true (and sadly, I believe it is, 99.999% of the time), I often just don’t want to hear it. Movies like this, you get to the end and want to stick your head in the oven. And we don’t even have a gas range!
I am not going to condemn it. There have been times when I have appreciated movies as bleak as this, or even bleaker … but I’m finding that as I get older I have less and less tolerance for them. Go ahead, auteurs of the world, make “true,” depressing films for the critics and a small elite to enjoy, I’m fine with that. I’m not putting you down, not at all. This was nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar of 2014, and probably deserved it. But until someone invents a happy pill I can drop as the credits roll, I don’t think I’ll be watching a lot more like this. These days, I prefer going to films that tell me happy lies. So sue me.