Connect with us
'Acid' is an exciting debut by Aleksandr Gorchilin, which plays something like a Russian version of 'Trainspotting.'

Film

Berlinale 2019: ‘Acid’ is a New Take on Russian Masculinity

‘Acid’ is an exciting debut by Aleksandr Gorchilin, which plays something like a Russian version of ‘Trainspotting.’

Acid is an empathetic portrait of conflicted masculinity that plays like a Russian take on Trainspotting. A drug and sex-fueled exploration of the latest lost generation, it takes no prisoners in its depiction of youthful despair. While not quite reaching the epoch-defining status of post-Soviet hits such as Brother and The Fool, it’s still a solid effort from debut director Aleksandr Gorchilin.

Acid starts at a party, with the drug-induced Vanya (Aleksandr Gorchilin) stark naked, holding on to a toilet for dear life. Our heroes, Petya (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) and Sasha (Filipp Avdeev), detain him, only for him to climb out onto the balcony, ready to take the leap. Uncaring, Petya says, “If you want to jump, jump” — condemning him to his death. At his funeral, Vanya’s mother, unable to accept his death, cries that she brought him cranberries. Petya harshly criticises her, saying that she didn’t know who he slept with — including other men.

It seems that none of the elders know what Russia has turned into since the Soviet era. Petya and Sasha go to a techno party, take drugs, then follow an older man to his flat. He’s an artist who takes his father’s sculptures — made under Soviet time to lionize the pioneers — and dips them in acid, corroding them into distorted shapes. It’s a metaphor for the movie as a whole, as toxic masculinity seems to take healthy young men, then forces them to act out in ways that feel unnatural.

Sasha certainly feels this way. He circumcised himself, a radical act to put himself at odds with contemporary Russian men. Growing up without a father, he hardly knows who he is anymore. Petya takes things one step further, drinking acid after a particularly heavy bout of boozing. Sasha takes it upon himself to help his friend, even though no one else seems to care.

Does Sasha have deeper, perhaps sexual feelings for his Petya? Acid doesn’t come to any fast conclusions, yet shows that even if he did, life for him would be very hard. Addressing themes of homosexuality without depicting it head on (while straight sex is seen in all its facets), it expertly details how gays in Russia are given little space to breathe.

Acid doesn’t court your sympathy. It wants to be honest about how the patriarchy leaves little space for Russian men to be honest with themselves, most crucially their shifting sexuality. Due to these characters’ problematic actions, they become hard people to root for. They are like the nihilists in Dostoyevsky’s Demons — lost youths who rebel against anyone and anything in their negative outlook upon the world.

An actor in many of Kirill Serebrennikov’s films, director Aleksandr Gorchilin has adopted the formalist experimentalism of his mentor without being able to maintain his free-flowing sense of place and character. While the pointed criticism of society is there, it isn’t integrated into the plot as smoothly as one would like, Sasha often feels more like a mouthpiece for Gorchilin’s ideas than a genuine character in his own right.

Additionally, for international audiences, certain sex scenes will be hard to stomach, giving Acid little chance of breaking outside of Russia (where it was released in October with an 18+ rating). This is a shame, considering how it complicates Western stereotypes of Russian masculinity, asking hard questions of its sons and fathers. While hardly exonerating them, at least it gives the world a little indication of where they’re coming from.

The 69th Berlin Film Festival runs February 7, 2019 – February 17, 2019. Visit the festival’s official website for more info.

Written By

As far back as he can remember, Redmond Bacon always wanted to be a film critic. To him, being a film critic was better than being President of the United States

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Donald Trump Trial: Man Sets Himself On Fire Outside Courthouse

Culture

Who Is Jason Kelce’s Wife? Inside the Life of Kylie McDevitt Kelce, Wife of NFL Star!

Celebrity

Lexi (Lexi Luna) Wiki, Bio, Net Worth, Boyfriend, Height, Weight, Age, Measurements

Celebrity

Who Is Liev Schreiber’s Wife? Meet the Woman Who Captured His Heart!

Celebrity

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ 7 Kids: Everything to Know

Celebrity

Aspyn and Parker’s Relationship Status: What to Know About the YouTuber and Her Husband After Split!

Celebrity

Is Jimmy Somerville Gay? Discover The Famous Pop Singer’s Sexual Orientation!

Celebrity

Usher Claims His Son Stole His Phone To DM PinkPantheress

Celebrity

O.J. Simpson cause of death: How Did Simpson Die?

Celebrity

Who is Jacob Batalon, and where is he now?

Celebrity

Emerging Sports Tech: How Wearables Are Changing Athletes’ Training Regimes

Lifestyle

Beyonce’s Daughter Rumi Carter Breaks Blue Ivy’s Hot 100 Record

News

Who Is Conor McGregor’s Girlfriend: Who is the Woman in Her Life?

Celebrity

Roman Gabriel Death: Former L.A. Rams Quarterback Former MVP Dies at 83!

Celebrity

Who Is Brittany Mahomes? From High School Sweethearts to Power Couple!

Celebrity

Morgan Wallen’s Biography, Net Worth, Personal Life and Controversies.

Celebrity

Connect