Alexander Gorchilin dedicates his directorial debut to “mums and dads”. Therein lies the key to unlocking his angsty drama about 20-somethings seemingly lost in an attempt to understand their purpose. There is a specific malaise towards existence that lurks in the minds of Acid’s dual protagonists, Sasha and Peter. They are trapped in a chaotic circle of parties and drugs, looking for nothing. The film slams its audience immediately into their perspective as we witness a drug-induced suicide in the opening sequence. Surprisingly the death elicits little emotion; it is only at the funeral when the mother weeps over her son’s grave that they feel cheated: she didn’t really know him so how can she cry for him? No one really understands them, especially not their parents.
Gorchilin’s first feature is confident particularly with regard to his characters. Each of them delicately balances their fragile self-assurance with a layer of insecurity skulking below the surface. An intensity exists predominantly in the relationship between Sasha and Peter – played spectacularly by Filipp Avdeev and Alexander Kuznetsov respectively – which violently ripples through the picture. It is clear Gorchilin’s strength as a director is aided by his substantial acting career. The central duo have palpable and twisted chemistry which plays out mesmerisingly on screen.
The movie’s crisp finish underscores the characters’ suspension in their sterile landscape. Their pristine and beautiful bodies are likened to the sculptures of Acid’s resident artist. Through him, we learn the meaning of the eponymous substance (not, in fact, the drug but the corrosive liquid). He plunges his sculptures in acid baths and in the process they become art. It is unclear precisely what the galvanising thought is, but after witnessing the artist, the protagonists become fixated on corroding themselves with the substance. It is a device that makes for gruesome bouts of tension, twisted assaults on the senses and ultimately a little perplexion.
Gorchilin leaves clear gaps in his story, forcing his audience to play catch up or get lost. It’s a device which initially works and stimulates the dizzy ride of the characters, however, as we plummet to the inevitable end too many loose threads appear which undo the bleak clarity of the feature’s beginning. The film constantly straddles the extremes of ecstasy and self-destruction but in the end, you are lost in between, deafened by the cries for help from all its overgrown teenagers.
Acid (Kislota) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.