Centering on Vasikina Makovtseva’s powerful performance, A Gentle Creature adds to a growing canon of films in Arrow’s wheelhouse which attempt to articulate a female gaze, from Heathers to the upcoming Climax, both in their thematic preoccupations and their narrative arcs.
As the eponymous gentle creature, Makovtseva’s face fills almost every frame of the film as she begs for time off work to go in search of her missing husband, wrongly taken into the custody of a Russian prison camp. As she encounters growing amounts of bureaucratic obstacles and human cruelty or indifference, her journey begins to traverse not only country but also time, in what Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian dubbed a “pilgrimage of suffering”.
An increasingly absurd tale that speaks not to the brutality inflicted within Russia’s history but specifically to that inflicted on Russian women, Sergei Loznitsa’s film premiered at Cannes to critical acclaim. Reminiscent of Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev and Klimov’s Come and See, it may not be an easy watch, but it is easily rewarding and bound to resonate for many viewers, for many years to come.