Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jason watches TULPAN

Because after SFIFF, I just had to go see a movie that I missed there.

Like Asa, the main character, we never get to actually see the mysterious title character. Asa has just finished a tour with the Russian navy, and returns to his Kazakh steppe home still wearing his snappy soldier's uniform. He has a dream of getting married and settling down with a little farm/ranch. Well, the "getting married" part is complicated, since the only marriage age girl in town is the neighbor's daughter, Tulpan. She's allegedly beautiful, although she stays hidden, and in a message through her parents she turns him down because of his big ears (even though he carries a picture of Prince Charles--whom he describes as "the Prince of America"--to prove that big ears are not a bad thing). Well, he doesn't give up, and still pursues her over the objections of her mother (who attacks him) and his father (who thinks he's worthless because he's lousy at raising cattle). He spends time with his best friend who drives around in his water truck and looks at porn. Or he hangs out with his little brother and vainly tries to help his dad with the herd. The herd is dying of starvation (and there's some pretty grueling scenes of attempts at mouth to snout resuscitation on stillborn calves). Throughout, he hangs on to his dream that seems at once ridiculously modest and agonizingly beyond reach. It's a story about the harsh, empty beauty of the Kazakh steppes, and the difficulty of chasing your dream, no matter what it is. Oh yeah, and it's surprisingly funny.

No comments: