Transilvania IFF 2017 – review – CHRYSANTHEMUMS TIME (“Chas Khrizantem,” Dmytro Moiseiev, 2016, Ukraine)

Chrysanthemums Time posterDmytro Moiseiev’s feature film, Chrysanthemums Time, which premiered in the official competition of the 16th Transilvania International Film Festival, is a meditation on mourning and loss. The film revolves around a woman named Olga (Alla Binieiva), coping with the loss of her husband, the most important person in her life, as she seeks personal purification by ridding herself of her personal and material belongings.

The film does not have a conventional structure; it does not have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is rather made up of moments, which succeed one another in a naturalistic way. Theatrical, dialogue driven sequences contrast quiet ones. Her conversations with strangers, acquaintances, and relatives are juxtaposed with lengthy shots from Olga’s walks and drives through nameless paths and roads, which form a meditative type of repetition. The latter sequences also take viewers out of the movie momentarily and allow them to project their own thoughts into the images that appear on the screen.

The unhurried pace of Chrysanthemums Time enhances its meditative solemnity. Moiseiev’s is a fragile movie, held together by its protagonist, Olga, who, despite the loss, appears to be undergoing a period of spiritual empowerment. (The scene that perhaps represents this the most takes place near the end, as she sits alone at a bar, drinking a glass of wine, which in cinema is only really ever present when the woman is a femme fatale.)

During a pivotal scene, in which her mother-in-law accuses her of facilitating her husband’s death for some type of financial gain, she appears disinterested and bothered by such fickle, unimportant nonsense. Other candid conversations, which as long as the aforementioned quiet shots, could be seen as exposing the way in which language restricts our ability to communicate our emotions with others. This could also be the significance of another scene in which Olga meets and rescues a man who has mysteriously lost his ability to speak.

Despite the obvious differences, such as the colour cinematography and the more compact length, Chrysanthemums Time evokes the aura of the works of Lav Diaz. Likewise, throughout the movie, one can notice a type of zen quality that is often accosted to the works of Japanese cinema. To be sure, the apparent simplicity of this film is somewhat deceitful: it is an admirable reflection on the importance and impact of grief in our lives. – ★★★★

CHAS KHRIZANTEM | 2016, Ukraine | Drama | Directed by – Dmytro Moiseiev / Produced by – Olya Stuga, Dmytro Moiseiev / Written by – Dmytro Moiseiev / Cinematography – Andrey Tartyshnikov / Edited by – Sasha Somasevenskies / Music by – Maxim Shalygin / Starring – Alla Binieieva, Piotr Armianovski, Igor Rubashkin / Running time: 70 mins.

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