Of Freaks And Men review

St Petersburg, 1900. Johann (Makovetsky) is a professional pornographer who sells erotic pictures depicting the flagellation of bare-bottomed women. One of his customers is the beautiful Lisa (Drukarova), the daughter of a wealthy engineer, and her guilty secret allows Johann and his malevolent henchman Victor (Viktor Sukhorukov) to worm their way into this bourgeois household. Radlov's doctor is also visited by these sinister criminals, with fateful consequences...

This Russian period melodrama makes for a genuinely bizarre offering. Utilising sepia-toned cinematography and silent movie title-cards, director Alexei Balabanov conjures up a world of eccentric characters. The emphasis is less on storytelling and more on establishing an atmosphere of perversity.

Full of arresting images, and with flashes of absurdist humour, it's a perplexing work of imagination and originality.


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