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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrific and Dark.
It was said that American films were good for the box office, but Russian films were good for the soul. That was back when Russian was all 15 republics and it was the USSR. Nothing has changed, it has only improved and Mein Gluk is one of the darkest, if not THE darkest films ever made. I'd put it in a league with A. Tarkovsky's 1979 film "Stalker" for pure paranoia,...
Published on March 13, 2012 by Chuck A.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What the, what?
To start, I want to begin with the negatives and say that the fact of this film being slow moving just doesn't do it justice. I felt like there were many unnecessary shots that were taken, which could have been filled with scenes that were a bit more interesting and revealing. I am a huge fan of the hidden art in movies, but I really didn't see anything, let alone see an...
Published 9 months ago by Chad VanHorn


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrific and Dark., March 13, 2012
By 
Chuck A. "cdallard" (West Palm Beach, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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It was said that American films were good for the box office, but Russian films were good for the soul. That was back when Russian was all 15 republics and it was the USSR. Nothing has changed, it has only improved and Mein Gluk is one of the darkest, if not THE darkest films ever made. I'd put it in a league with A. Tarkovsky's 1979 film "Stalker" for pure paranoia, insanity and photography only possible in an expanse like Russia. I would not advise watching this too close to bedtime, or while drinking a lot of Vodka. This film will 'creep you out' and it will do this without the special effects, camera tricks or other cinematic gadgetry used in the West. I give this 5 stars for being totally astonishing. I could name scenes I found 'impossible' but that might limit your enjoyment. If you cannot buy this, borrow it or rent it. This film is worthy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the map to nowhere ends here, June 14, 2012
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This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
This unique Russian film shares an unsettling that was established a few years back with releases of 4 and Cargo 200. Both those films told the discovery and unveiling of a Russia that no longer has a moral compass, sense of focus, pride of self worth. What we saw was a complete spinning out of control for no purpose anyone can surmise. I once was infatuated with the rich culture and pride these people had for love of mother and country. Even in face of a steady string of ruthless rulers, these people of this most mysterious and powerful of nations did have an inner love and pride that no longer lives. Russia has now hit a bottom no abyss can measure in any tangible terms.

My Joy continues the unraveling beyond any sense of normalcy as violence and unruly behavior rule the day, roads, and small communities. In a world that has no center this one has spun into a hell beyond my conception. Our protagonist truck driver seems amiable enough, but his delivery of flour to some X mark spot on the map will never reach it's destination.

Nor will he ever awake to know the person whom he once looked into a mirror at and saw himself. Several viewing are necessary to just get a grasp of what you are watching. Unlike anything before it, My Joy can refer to an ideal that once had substance. In the Russia of today, the legions of hell have risen out of every crack and crevice. They run amok unchallenged and survival is a daily task. Evil wears a mask and it is on every face in a country gone into chasms of eternal flames. Out of a basketfull of bastards, they come levying meaness unknown to the average novice of western culture and educational background. I guess this film has a purpose and beauty. It is done so at the risk of spoiling any favorite nations one might nurture a crush for in complete naivety. Watch at your tolerance level. I personally love this sick stuff. I can't get enough and imagine I'll still go even at the risk of my own demise.

P.S. it helps to faintly understand this film if you have watch 4 and Cargo 200 which introduce the modern insanity in full measure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars flawed but moving and powerful, April 6, 2013
This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
This film exudes a miasma of menace in hidden yet tangible ways and even on a soft summer day. It is very uncomfortable to watch and unnerving. It devolves into later scenarios that can be brutal or heart-wrending but all woven into a realistic tableaux. Life in Russia is not this grim but it can get that grim so there is no escaping from this film's comment on post- soviet Russia.
A maddening fault in the film is what happened to the naive truck driver in the beginning. He was transporting flour. And next, there is a taciturn, hardened, bearded man selling flour in the market. IZ it the same man after he fell through the cracks? I only got a good look at him towards the end of the film. I was able to verify it's the same guy from comparing opening shots of the truck-driver. It falls in with the story's thread because I had originally thought " The poor bugger- the fool needs a gun", which fits with the ending. Falling through a crack means we do not get to see how he fell through, which mirrors the nature of cracks themselves. This lack of accountability is a re-occuring theme in the film.
There is a terrible anonimity to individuals and yet each is yet living their life in their own quiet or hidden ways in earnest. The value of human life becomes lifeless when there is no rule of law in soceity. This seems to be the message of the film. There is a scene of an old soldier recounting doing Stalin's dirty buisness in the purges as if to show not much has changed. The film is scary and sad because it does not veer from the fragility of people's lives, where to be kind is to be an outsider and therefore vunerable.
The film does not use extras; at one point it pans for quite a long time on the locals at a small town in the middle of nowhere. Of course he asked them not to grin or crack jokes at the time but it does paint a grim and stoic kind of soceity. Incidentally, the same thing is happening in English cities for economic reasons as the " feudal" order re-establishes itself after flirting with socialist influences after ww1 until Thatcherism.
I liked the philosphy of the truck-driver the bearded one meets at the end. " Don't interefere "he said, "And if you do don't be greedy because that is interfering too." : keep a card up your sleeve. It was a suggestive double-edged gem that seemed to be a metaphor for how Russia will dig themselves out of post-communism. It almost seemed to refer to how Putin is working behind the scenes , like a spook still, to keep and regain order. There is nothing fair or democratic about how america or the uk or many european countries run behind the scenes. We have our own ogliarchy when 1% own 40% of the country's wealth. But our country has enough weath and infrastructure for enough crumbs to fall from the table to keep things civilized. Russia is growing in wealth; it could also happen in the future. People rig order behind the scenes even in anarchy. It's the corrupt order imposed from the top that is the problem. The truck driver imposes order on anarchy at the end as an individual. It chillingly mirrors the same actions of the old guy he picks up right at the start of the film.
There are a few scenes that are too darkly lit.
It was distracting not having a clue who certain people are and how they fit in. Although, as with the truck-driver, this could probably be resolved by watching it a few times? A fragmented film to illustrate a fragmented soceity. It is annoying viewing at times. A problem solved by owning it and rewatching worth it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A pastel of Russian cultural life, March 19, 2014
This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
The plot of this film is the sum of its parts. It is a strong expression of humanity's resolve to best the worst of times. The film cleverly oscillates between the past and the present in such a way that you won't discern between the two as they swing together like a revolving door for an audience to peer into the private lives of everyday Russians. I also found this film something in the way of Turgenev's, 'Sketches found in a Hunter's album.'
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4.0 out of 5 stars It Just Doesn't Get More Depressing Than This, March 6, 2014
By 
Michael Fekula (College Park, MD) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
OK, for film craftsmanship I could have given this a 5-star rating. But the overall impression is simply depressing. I can think of very few other films that have been in the same category of being a major downer. There are very few characters in this film that have any redeeming qualities and the ones that do generally get killed. You have to think of some of the dark 70's movies like "Looking For Mr. Goodbar", "Night Moves", and "Deer Hunter" for films that are as depressing and that is kind of a reach: neither of those flicks approach this dark, brooding, ominous, relentless downward spiral of a movie.

Perhaps the scariest thing about this movie is the ring of truth to it. This is a Russian film maker's take on what has happened to his country. The mafia-like thugs that you read about in the newspaper articles about Russia come to life here. In essence, the film is about a divided society. The only thing is that we never see the wealthy in this film. This is a film about the rest of Russia; the ordinary people who suffer under the thugs until some become thugs themselves in order to survive.

The most poignant scene of all comes relatively early when a kindly young truck driver enters a village where people are lining up at the market. Long lines of people in search of sparse commercial goods. The expressions on their faces reveal a people that have been beaten down. After watching this film it is easy to see why alcoholism becomes rampant.

There is a fair amount of violence in the movie -- a violence that reveals something about ourselves. We see enough people getting victimized that in the very few occasions when a victim strikes back it comes off as a relief, almost a catharsis. Justice is rarely done and only the victims can make it happen because law enforcement is completely compromised. No one who is in a position to do any good is willing to step forward. This is a society that has dissolved.

Again, the movie is well crafted but unless you are really really into dark films I would give it a miss.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Phantasmagoric Quality", August 20, 2012
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This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
Snippets of life in rural Soviet Russia with a raw phantasmagoric quality that is often elusive and difficult to pin down. This subtitled film opens with a somewhat conventional and interesting storyline of a wayward truck driver, but ultimately gives way to lot of shifting scenes where shifty characters predominate.

Nonethelessss, one is given a great visual window into the unforgiving wintry tundra and the feral, primitive villagers living in an authoritarian but nonethess lawlass state. This film is obviously not for the faint hearted given recurrent themes of brutality, thievery, cruelty and misanththopy. I should add that it was difficult to keep track of the comings and goings of this rather large cast which otherwise did dispaly exceptional acting skills.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Journey from Good to Evil, June 15, 2012
This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
Reminded me of "Le Quattro Volte" (even with goats in the farm house) in the dependence upon visuals rather than dialogue to convey a story with deeper interpretations. I offer one but there are others. Filmed in an area about 300 miles SW of Moscow that visually conveys the people and culture of that region. The lives of several people intersect or our connected in some way with a trucker as he carries a load of flour from one village to another. We see how poverty can transform good people into performing acts of greed and murder.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What the, what?, March 13, 2014
This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
To start, I want to begin with the negatives and say that the fact of this film being slow moving just doesn't do it justice. I felt like there were many unnecessary shots that were taken, which could have been filled with scenes that were a bit more interesting and revealing. I am a huge fan of the hidden art in movies, but I really didn't see anything, let alone see an interesting storyline. I felt that it was all over the place, in which I would find myself many times to be confused. Maybe it's the fact that it has that Russian and Ukrainian culture of film tied to it, or maybe I'm spoiled in the sense of being an American and watching films that have an actual meaning.
Never having been to the Ukraine, this is exactly the kind of setting that I imagined it to be. Run down, raggedy, dark, depressing, and horrifying, all at the same time. It seemed like there was no hope for anyone to be saved or helped in their society. When the '18' year old prostitute thought she was being bought for her 'goods', she had no idea that the young lieutenant was trying to help her. And when she soon realized what he was doing, it left her to believe that there was no escape from her reality. It's almost like she was helpless, and we see that a few more times in the movie when two soldiers raid a house and kill a man, leaving the son all by himself. We see this again when the corrupt police officers take the Major from Moscow into custody for having a blown out headlight. He's helpless because he knows that he can't act out against them, which would leave him dead a whole lot sooner.
Visually, this movie was decent. The settings that were used I think portrayed Ukraine as an abandoned and lonely place where people struggle each day to survive. This was obviously what Loznitsa was aiming for when he wrote and directed the movie. I do believe that there could have been more edits, which would cut down on time and lack of interesting scenes. It may have sped up the pace, but that all depends on the director's vision.
For the positives, I do think that the acting was pretty good. I think that the direction of them by Loznitsa was perfect because the emotions they portrayed were spot on. It made us, the viewers, feel a little saddened because of the hardships and helplessness that they faced. We connected with them in the sense that we felt their pain and suffering in this time where you couldn't help but to think negatively. I also did like the framing and the shot takes that were used (not the length of course). We felt like we were there with the actors and actually in the setting.
I wouldn't recommend this movie, however, but it was good to see the harsh realities of Ukraine today.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I love foreign films but not this one, April 23, 2012
By 
Jones "itimbuktu" (Columbia, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Joy (DVD)
I watch at least one foreign film a week and like movies from all over the world. This one, however, was just strange. It was just too difficult to follow. Not only were parts of the movie almost impossible to see because the screen was so dark (and I watched it on a big flat screen HD TV), but characters just kept popping up out of no where and I couldn't tell what happened to the original main character who got lost in the woods in the beginning.

I gave it two stars instead of one because some of the dialogue is very funny in a dry humor way and some of the scenes surprise you with an unexpected (though usually deadly) twist. But two stars is all I can give - this movie just wasn't for me.
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My Joy
My Joy by Sergei Loznitsa (DVD - 2012)
$29.95 $19.39
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