The train ride that makes the right stops.
“Compartment No. 6” is a Russian/Finnish film that loves the formula of two people who don’t like each other but manage to connect well in the end. It’s mostly the girl who can’t really stand the guy that much, but it’s handled in a more reserved manner, rather than the commercial manner American movie-goers are used to. Not everything has to be like “The Proposal,” which was a fun movie, no doubt.
Set in the 1980s, we meet a Finnish student named Laura (Seidi Haarla) who is studying archaeology at the University of Moscow, and has fallen in love with her roommate Irina. They were both planning to head out to Murmansk, via train, to see the petroglyphs, which are 10,000 year-old drawings, but Irina had to work, so it’s just Laura.
En route, she’s stuck in a compartment with an eccentric Russian miner named Lyokha (Yura Borisov). He appears to be kind of a dick, jokingly suggesting that Laura prostituting herself, which has her trying and failing to get another compartment and leaving to get some air with the bathroom window open. He also seems eccentric, when he asks her how she says: “I love you” in Finnish, she tricks him by saying “F you” in her language.
However, as time progresses, he starts to become a better person, like when the train has to stop for the night, he invites her to visit a friend of his. And he also become sympathetic towards her situations, like when a seemingly nice guitarist takes her video camera, which has her filming Moscow. Lyokha says: “People deserve to die,” and Laura laughs.
Based on Rosa Liksom’s novel, director Juho Kuosmanen directs “Compartment No. 6” with a certain kind of pacing and tone that brings out the best and worst of the two characters and their situations. Things don’t always go as planned, but that’s usually the case with life. In fact, when you’re reading this, you’re probably bored to tears with it. Anyway, this is a train ride you won’t want to miss.
The performances from the two leads are full of light and timing, and you’re able to see them excel. Haarla and Borisov have a certain kind of chemistry that manages to bring these two individuals together and adapt to each other’s lives. She wants to see something special, and he has work, and the last half hour really pays off for them.
Other than some unnecessary lines, “Compartment No. 6” reminded me a bit of Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” because of its train and personalities. I know it’s set in Russia, but it still looks and feels fabulous. Even the opening and end credits have that vibe, especially when the background colors change and classics songs are playing.
Traveling films like “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” and “Stand By Me” know how to change perspectives of people, and being that this one is set in the 80s, it really gets you in the mood. And it also combines the genre of two different people coming together quite well. I may be an American movie-goer, but I still deserve quality and entertainment without relying on only the cliches to pull the train. Pun intended.
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