The Student

The Student

Kirill Serebrennikov (2016)

113min
15 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Adapted from Marius von Mayenburg's German play, Martyr, Kirill Serebrennikov's satirical allegory on the control exerted by the Russian church and state has much wider implications in our troubled world. The story centres on biology teacher Victoria Isakova, whose liberal views are challenged by pupil Pyotr Skvortsov. An Orthodox zealot, he resorts to scriptural quotation, nudity, a gorilla suit and a large wooden cross to turn headmistress Svetlana Bragarnik against Isakova and draw impressionable classmate Aleksandr Gorchilin into his orbit. The stylised performances mean that Serebrennikov occasionally edges towards melodrama. But, from the opening row with his mother (Julia Aug) and the disruption of a swimming session, Skvortsov brings a ferocious Machiavellian fervour to his anti-Semitic feud with the emotionally fraught Isakova that enables Serebrennikov to make his political points with a provocative potency. Atmospherically designed and photographed in arresting long takes, this often makes for gruelling viewing, especially when the heavy metal soundtrack kicks in.

Cast & Crew

Veniamin Pyotr Skvortsov
Grigoriy Aleksandr Gorchilin
Lidia Aleksandra Revenko
Elena Viktoria Isakova
Inga, Veniamin's mother Julia Aug
Headmistress Svetlana Bragarnik
Oleg, PE teacher Anton Vasiliev
History teacher Irina Rudnitskaya
Director Kirill Serebrennikov
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Other Information

Language: Russian +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: Matchbox FilmsGuidance: Sexual references.Available on: DVDReleased on: 3 Mar 2017