Film Review: The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time (2019) by Yerlan Nurmukhambetov and Lisa Takeba

An uncommon partnership between Kazakhstan and Japan is behind the movie “The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time” and it’s not only a co-production. The movie is actually co-directed by Kazakh filmmaker Yerlan Nurmukhambetov and Japanese Lisa Takeba – who allegedly met at a celebration in Cannes – and stars amongst others, Kazakh movie actress Samal Yeslyamova, winner of finest actress at Cannes for “Ayka” in 2018, and Japanese actor Mirai Moriyama. The movie had its premiere at Busan Worldwide Movie Competition on the threerd of October and it’s being screened in cinemas round Japan as I write. The odd English title could sound a bit arcane, whereas the Japanese one – which interprets “Olzhas’ White Horse” – goes straight to the purpose; nevertheless, the easy rationalization is that “Roads of Time” is the sequence of work by Kazakh artist Gali Myrzashev that are proven through the finish credit.

“The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time” is screening at Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema

The movie tells the story of 10-year-old Olzhas (a superb Madi Minaidarov in his debut) going by way of a pivotal second of his life, a second that may in all probability form his future. Olzhas lives along with his loving dad and mom and two little sisters on the barren steppes of rural Kazakhstan. On a transparent morning like many different, he’s getting ready to go and assist his mum Aigul (Samal Yeslyamova) working within the fields – as boys do – whereas his dad, horse breeder Ondasyn (Dulyga Akmolda) is away on a enterprise journey. He’s going to the city market with different villagers to promote among the horses. Sadly, the boys fall into an ambush laid by three ruthless horse thieves and get brutally murdered and – as a final gesture of disrespect – are thrown in a bush, whereas the criminals run away with the horses and Ondasyn’s cracked wristwatch. The one survivor of the ambush is a small kitten Ondasyn was holding in his jacket, prepared to offer to his children.

Overwhelmed by the occasions, Aigul manages to carry collectively and go forward with the funeral plans, whereas the children are saved out of it in a idiot try at defending them and delaying the ache, however predictably, this solely leads to the other end result, when Olzhas lastly realises what occurred. Within the meantime, a mysterious man (Mirai Moriyama) has arrived within the village and he’s in search of Aigul. His identify is Kairat and we quickly uncover that he’s been lacking from Aigul’s life for 8 years and that their lives are indissolubly linked by an vital secret they share. Kairat agrees to assist Aigul and the children to relocate dwelling and horses in one other village, close to the lady’s household, and through the switch he and the boy get to know one another. Till they encounter the horse thieves…

A particular slow-burner, “The Horse Thieves. Roads Of Time” takes its time to unravel the story and attain the climax, however at a neat 84 minutes, it by no means feels unnecessarily stretched. The plot was impressed by a news-story and the movie retains that matter-of-fact-ness, right down to the ultimate showdown. Sure, as a result of if you happen to haven’t gained till now, the substances are all there; an outpost, a handful of horse thieves, a stranger with a doubtful previous, a dose of vengeance, a protracted, battered trench coat and a sawed-off shotgun. “The Horse Thieves. Roads Of Timeis actually a bona fide Kazakh Western movie with some art-house blood in its vein that succeeds in reaffirming a powerful id regardless of the unfamiliar style and a collab between nations that would not be extra totally different.

Administrators Nurmukhambetov and Takeba have chosen to put the characters of their small saga towards the grandiose backdrop of the Kazakh steppes of the Almaty Area, within the deep coronary heart of the Asian Continent, to spotlight the little or no energy they’ve in dealing with the destiny and the occasions that overturn their lives. This candy little story of a father and son achieves on this method epic and timeless traits. Echoing within the vacancy of the panorama, the sparse dialogues are an interaction of solids and voids, spoken and unstated, that subtlety however very successfully conveys the advanced emotions and the turmoil behind these silent eyes.

Regardless of being a father and son story, populated principally by males and narrated from a boy’s perspective, the movie has a powerful female element carried by Samal Yeslyamova’s Aigul. She is a powerful factor within the story, in details she completely embodies the strong, familial reference level and the required resilience (excuse me the overused phrase) to outlive within the wild borderland. Moriyama, along with his sturdy options, provides exoticism to the “stranger with a darkish previous” and he’s to be applauded for his horse-riding and his Kazakh dialogues too. The boy, Madi Minaidarov, does a very good job and he coincidentally resembles so much – in options and in form of character – to Por Silatsa, the boy in Mattie Do’s “The Lengthy Stroll”, seen too at Goteborg Worldwide Movie Competition.

The cinematography from Aziz Zhambakiev has the geographic-documentary high quality however with a really private temper. Among the scenes are memorable, just like the portrait of tomato choosing within the fields, with a heat, 70s-snapshot-like mild and touches of vivid purple and petrol blue artfully positioned. Simply lovely.

“The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time” is the standard pageant animal; nevertheless, I want it additionally a contented life in cinemas the place it really deserves to be seen.



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