Modern Ukrainian cinema in one way or another touches on patriotic and historical themes, but it is not limited to them at all. With the support of Derzhkino, original, unusual and somewhat gloomy stories are regularly released. Which, moreover, are not afraid to show the not-so-pleasant sides of Ukrainian society. “Pamphyr” is one of such gloomy stories. We tell you in the review below how it turned out.
“Pamfir” / Pamfir
Directed by Dmytro Suholytkyi-Sobchuk
Starring Oleksandr Yacentyuk, Solomiya Kyrylova, Stanislav Potyak, Myroslav Makoviichuk, Ivan Sharan
Release year 2023
The events of the film take place in the western regions of Ukraine, near the border. The main character, Leonid, returns from working in Poland to see his family. His son Nazar arranges a fire in the prayer house so that Leonid stays in the village longer and spends more time with his family. But the head of the family. To compensate for the damage, the hero has to turn to his dark past. After all, in some circles he is known as Pamfir, a skilled smuggler.
It is difficult to describe “Pamfira” with the usual phrases and terms from film criticism. This is a slow, almost intimate film that focuses on the tragedy of one family.
Which, at the same time, is quite easily projected onto entire social strata. It is not for nothing that the authors do not even name a specific settlement in which everything is happening.
However, the aesthetics of the West of Ukraine is still visible in every frame. It is also strengthened by the feeling of the Malanka carnival, which is inevitably approaching. Thanks to him, the film has enough festive mood, and carnival costumes and masks play their role in the story. Actually, the advertising campaign of the film was based on the latter, because they look stylish and authentic.
Masks are needed in “Pamfira” not only for beauty. They also work as a kind of metaphor about the shadow life of people and their true essences.
After all, in a small and, at first glance, peaceful village, where all residents regularly go to church and honor the traditions of their ancestors, their criminal stories unfold.
There is an interesting contrast in “Pamfira”. On the one hand, the film shows the joys of family life and the support of loved ones, beautiful landscapes and seems to be imbued with coziness. On the other hand, all this is gradually destroyed due to the main character’s desire to save the family through “one last case”. So, with the progress of the review, an unpleasant feeling of confusion, almost physically perceptible pressure, is getting stronger in the soul.
Local history is also helped by direction. “Pamfir” was shot in close-ups, so you won’t be able to particularly admire the local beauties. But the landscapes of Western Ukraine are so beautiful that they create a colorful environment even under such conditions. And the camera at the same time emphasizes all the tension of the characters, catches their every complex look and fleeting emotions.
Another interesting solution is filming many scenes in one shot. Because of this, the camera often seems to bustle around the main characters, emphasizing the unstable state of their inner and outer world.
“Pamfir” is worth watching just for the sake of the direction, because its gloomy aesthetic is memorable even when separated from the main story.
It is not for nothing that the film received the award for the best direction at the Palić European Film Festival.
“Pamfir” is a festival film with all the appropriate features. It does not rush anywhere with the pace of the story, because of which the average viewer may find it somewhat boring. But the authors just competently develop the main storyline so that the “festive” climax hits you as painfully as possible.
The film crew did not shy away from depicting dirty, repulsive moments, which most often consist of the lives of real people, and not tools in the script. Therefore, in “Pamfira” scenes of sex, masturbation and beatings with all the consequences are shown quite realistically, in some ways even disgustingly. And such moments work on the motives of the dark side of one settlement, in which prayers and traditions turn into just another way to consolidate power from a position of strength.
“Pamfir” is not afraid to be unpleasant in order to show something sublime against the background of the horrors of human souls.
Moreover, it does without unnecessary idealization and romanticization of the actions of the main characters. On the contrary, they are in many respects absurd and rather deserving of condemnation. But the film is built in such a way that no condemnation remains after the final credits. Only bitterness.
Add to that a great soundtrack and talented performances by all the local actors, and you get a film worthy of all praise. This is the cinema that Ukraine needs as an independent state.
“Pamfir” is definitely an original movie, but without inflections. This is primarily a self-sufficient story that leaves behind vivid emotions. And this is a sign of high cinematography.
Pros: competent implementation of the entourage of Western Ukraine; an interesting contrast between the traditions of the Ukrainian people and the gloomy modern realities; original direction that emphasizes the drama of the plot; provocativeness and boldness of certain moments Cons: some length and monotony of the story Conclusion:
Speaking in the language of stereotypes, “Pamfir” is “a movie not for everyone.” But this is not a problem with the film itself, but rather with an industry built around blockbusters and racing advertising campaigns. After all, as a work of Ukrainian art, “Pamfir” stands out and leaves only pleasant impressions