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There’s a welcome streak of black comedy running through Latvian director Juris Kursietis’s second feature, which follows a young Latvian immigrant as he struggles to establish a new life in Belgium. In many ways, Oleg’s (Valentin Novopolskij) situation is sobering. He is unfairly dismissed from his job at a meat-processing plant after a colleague loses a finger. His living situation is precarious and at the mercy of villainous Polish landlord and mafioso Andrzej (Dawid Ogrodnik). And despite a new gig as a roofer, he can’t seem to get paid.
A day trip to Ghent to visit Hubert and Jan Van Eyck’s altarpiece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, finds Oleg haunted by his grandmother’s insistence that its sacrificial lamb is hopeful, not sad. The film refuses to get bogged down in the bleakness of Oleg’s predicament, with Kursietis’s irrepressibly lively handheld camera emphasising his protagonist’s sense of perpetual forward motion. Ogrodnik’s performance as landlord Andrzej, a charismatic smooth-talker who seduces Oleg with promises of Fifa matches and free food in a kind of frat house for migrants, lightens things too. In one scene he teaches Oleg to fire a gun in the woods. “You are ready now,” he declares, as a terrified Oleg misses his mark, the bullet just skimming his shoe.
On Mubi from 23 March
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Oleg review – the tale of a Latvian trapped in Belgium | Drama films