Russia, just after World War Two: Katya (Rednikova), single mother of six-year-old Sanya (Philipchuk), meets Tolyan (Mashinkov) on a train. They have sex and, on reaching their destination, shack up in a communal apartment.
Flexing his machismo and exercising his questionable paternal skills, Tolyan teaches Sanya to become `a man', while Katya remains infatuated with her new boyfriend. But It soon transpires her lover is a thief and womaniser, with his exploits leading to tragic consequences that permanently separate mother and son.
The compelling charm of this touching, old-fashioned yarn (nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar) rests in its fairytale simplicity and striking photography. With fluid performances that include an achingly sensitive turn from Philipchuk, it's soothing viewing that you'll want to return to.