Andrea’s Angle | “Compartment No. 6” – Beautiful Connections
Has there ever been a time when you were traveling alone? Have you ever been lonely or disconnected? I know I have so I found this story of connection on a train an intriguing premise. After viewing, I found Compartment No. 6 full of beautiful moments of unexpected connections, an unveiling of unusual relationships, and the effects of loneliness.
Compartment No. 6 is a drama film co-written and directed by Juho Kuosmanen based on the 2011 book of the same name by Rosa Liksom. In the film, a young Finnish student, Laura (Seidi Haarla) is studying in Moscow and engaged in a relationship with a professor, Irina (Dinara Drukarova). They plan a trip to study the petroglyphs of Murmansk but Irina is unable to travel due to work. So Laura ends up traveling on the train from Moscow to Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a larger-than-life Russian miner, Lyokha (Yuri Borisov), the two face major truths about human connection and forge an unlikely friendship.
What is the most fascinating element is how much the character of Laura is shown as an outsider. In the initial scenes, she is shown treading the outside edges of a party, seeming like she doesn’t quite fit in. When it is revealed that the host of the party is her girlfriend, Irina, it is a bit jarring until you see the intention of the writers. As she gets on the train for her journey to Murmansk, she stumbles with her passport and conflicts with the train attendant as well as her neighbor Lyokha. It is only along the journey that she slowly connects with those around her, forging connections, even when it is difficult. The story slowly peels off the layers of her character as well as Lyokha, until you see both the loneliness of both as well as the odd relationship they make. The building of that friendship and human interconnection is what makes the film so intriguing.
The film has some gorgeous scenery. While most of it’s filmed on the train and in cities, there are a few scenes of various parts of Russia, that just highlight the beauty of the area. If you like trains, you may appreciate the experience of what it was like to travel in Russia when the Soviet Union dissolved. We get to see the crowding, lack of amenities, and segregation and we see how long the trip is from Moscow to Murmansk. While it can be slow, the filming of the train and passengers shows the true nature of the travel and how difficult it is. Interspersing with the scenery around the train is a way for the filmmakers to lighten the tone of the movie.
Since it is such a focused film, that makes the acting even more critical to the success of the film. Both of the leads are engaging and charismatic in their own ways. Seidi Haarla as Laura gives a brilliant performance, her personality revolving and changing as she gets more comfortable with her companion. At first, she appears uncomfortable and tightly contained. As time goes on, she warms and her portrayal illustrates the friendship perfectly. Her acting in the role is perfect, just like Yuri Borisov as Lyokha. Yuri plays Lyokha as gruff, flirtatious, and disruptive. Once the characters forge their friendship, his behavior changes, becoming quieter and more considerate, unexpectedly accepting and caring. It is a superb set of performances and both are the highlight of the film.
The film is slow and the plot meanders. It all has the purpose of building the characters because this is very much a character-driven film. But for those not accustomed to the slow pace and a lack of clear action, it might seem like not much is happening. Still, the characters are engaging and there is enough happening to hold your attention. It is subtitled so English-speaking audiences will need to read the dialogue but that didn’t detract for me from the overall story.
If you like thoughtful films about the power of human connection and unlikely friendship, you may want to catch this movie, especially if you don’t mind subtitles. It is slow but carefully thought out to demonstrate the interconnectedness of human nature and how relationships can change two people if only a tiny amount. I enjoyed the building of the characters, the subtle and excellent performances, and the beauty of the landscapes surrounding the journey of these two souls.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stops.
Official Website: Compartment No. 6 | Sony Pictures Classics
Compartment No. 6
A young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a larger than life Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of Compartment No. 6 to face major truths about human connection. COMPARTMENT NO. 6 is in theaters world wide and opens in Phoenix this Friday, March 11, 2022.
ONE-LINER: As a train weaves its way up to the arctic circle, two strangers share a journey that will change their perspective on life.