Compartment No 6
Having won the top prize in the Uncertain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival for The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki in 2016, Juho Kuosmanen presents Compartment No 6, a sweet comedy-drama about a very unlikely friendship founded on a train. Natalia (Yuliya Aug) is an architect in the making; she’s from Finland and lives in Moscow with her professor girlfriend, Irina (Dinara Drukarova), although their relationship is hidden from Irina’s colleagues. Natalia travels by train across the county to see the Petroglyphs, which means days in a second-class compartment with Vadim (Yuriy Borisov). Vadim immediately gets drunk and, after hours in the dining cart, Natalia returns to find him drunkenly ranting, forcing her to ask for another seat – but the train is full.
Natalia eventually warms to Vadim’s intensity and, when the train stops in a town for a night, they stop by Vadim’s mother’s house and the evening is spent drinking, his mother telling Natalia that “every woman has an animal inside her”. An odd friendship is looming as the two travellers discuss life and laugh over drinks, and Valim grows increasingly jealous when Natalia welcomes a Finnish man into their compartment. They draw each other, exchange stories, and by the end of the road they both have new perspectives on life.
Compartment No 6 is a sweet film that breathes life into the cold, dark setting. There is barely any colour throughout, and the majority is shot within the tiny train compartment. It is a production that relies heavily on human characters and, although Natalia and Vadim create a sweet story, the result feels drab and over-stretched. The acting from the two leads is stellar, particularly from Borisoz, whose facial expressions alone have the audience bellowing with laughter, but it should have clocked in at 90 minutes – the final 20 minutes are superfluous.
A sweet, original but ultimately forgettable film.
Compartment No 6 does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Compartment No 6 here: