Aritmiya [Arrhythmia] (2017)

Director: Boris Khlebnikov
Writer: Boris Khlebnikov, Nataliya Meshchaninova
Cast: Aleksandr Yatsenko, Irina Gorbachova, Nikolay Shrayber, Maksim Lagashkin, Lyudmila Motornaya
Seen on: 2.6.2018

Oleg (Aleksandr Yatsenko) and Katya (Irina Gorbachova) have been married for a while, but by now their marriage is in danger. Oleg is a paramedic and Katya a doctor, they both work a lot and are accustomed to party hard, too. But when Oleg, once again, gets drunk and embarrasses Katya at a family party, she has had it: she texts Oleg that she wants a divorce. But Oleg has a hard time accepting that, their break-up quickly turning messy.

Aritmiya feels like a very Russian film, and not only because of the copious amounts of alcohol consumed in it. There’s a grim outlook with a touch of warmth to it that reminded me of other Russian films and novels. In any case, it’s a strong film, but also frustrating at times.

Film poster showing a couple hugging.

To me, Aritmiya revolves around communication, or rather the lack thereof. Oleg and Katya were once very much in love, it’s obvious. But they don’t really manage to talk to each other about anything or really hear what the other is saying. Katya texts Oleg her decision to get divorced. It seems outrageous at first, but since he doesn’t respect a single boundary she sets in their interpersonal communication, it seems no big surprise that she’d resort to breaking up with him in writing.

One does have to wonder how things got that bad between them. Oleg is perfectly observant, empathetic and caring in his job as a paramedic, but he fails completely to see or hear anything about Katya, her wishes or her needs. That characterization of Oleg doesn’t feel unrealistic, btw – there are many men who are perfectly capable of doing things in their job that they don’t seem to be able to do at home anymore all of a sudden. Especially when it comes to care work.

Aleksandr Yatsenko in the film.

That lack of communication and consideration (especially on Oleg’s part) between the two becomes rather exhausting, especially since I really wished them well. (Okay, I admit, I wished Katya well and I hoped that Oleg would rediscover the man he obviously used to be at some point.) I was emotionally invested in their story, which makes the ending even more frustrating to me: [SPOILER] at the end, the two do seem to get together again, to give it another go. But they didn’t actually talk about anything, or resolve any issues between them, so it’s clear that this reconciliation can’t last. I would have rather seen them split up for good or really start working on their relationship than this obviously doomed making up. [/SPOILER]

In any case, Aritmiya is engaging and was hotly discussed by us after having seen it. It also manages to throw in a bit of social commentary that I appreciated a lot. That, plus the good eye for realtionships, making it a film well worth seeing.

Irina Gorbachova and Aleksandr Yatsenko in the film.

Summarizing: Interesting and thoughtful.

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