Bulgarian director Milko Lazarov’s second feature […] is an exquisitely shot and very moving film about an ageing couple who appear to exist alone on the edge of the world, stoically surviving on the icy tundra in a way of life that may be about to end. The film isn’t explicit about its setting, though Yakutsk, in Siberia, seems a good bet. It opens with a slice of cheerful entertainment, as an old woman resplendent in traditional costume gives a virtuoso performance on a Jew’s harp, her ringed fingers dancing across her mouth. When she finishes, she smiles at the camera; it’s impossible not to clap.
Lazarov then switches mode from the sweet to the near mythic, and an image of a man alone in the wilderness – or at least, alone with his dog. In the far distance, Nanook (Mikhail Aprosimov) sleds across a wintry landscape in which it’s difficult to tell where the land stops and the sky begins. The gradations of white and pale blue are so pellucid that he seems to be moving across a watercolour
Lazarov and his cinematographer Kaloyan Bozhilov never cease to amaze, not least when they reveal the diamond mine as a mirror of Nanook’s fishing hole, magnified to the size of a giant crater, with a town hanging on its lip – a grim view of the dehumanisation that comes with industry. Composer Penka Kouneva’s beautiful score adds to the sense of majesty and loss.
Demetrios Matheou, Screen Daily