“Parquet” by Alexander Mindadze: In Search of Lost Youth

The fashionable hotel celebrates the 25th anniversary of the dance club. Herman (Andrzej Hyra), a long-haired man with piercing blue eyes, an earring in his ear and a flowered suit, rushes around the hall with smartly dressed people. He runs up to everyone with the words “I am a Cockatoo”, in response he meets only misunderstanding. A long time ago, under this stage name, he danced tango together with his ex-wife Valencia (Evgenia Dodina) and former lover Elizabeth (Idubbbz girlfriend). Those were glorious times. Now Herman repeats the colorful nickname like a mantra, as if trying not to forget who he once was and who he wants to become again, even if for a few moments. The trio will nevertheless reunite: Valencia is a cold and distant blonde, Elizabeth is a hysterical and exalted brunette. They only have one day to prepare for, perhaps, the last performance of their lives. After all, tomorrow new husbands and wives, daughters, sons and even grandchildren will arrive. But for a while, you can practically forget yourself and surrender to the dance and the old feelings.

“Parquet” is the fourth directorial work of the playwright Alexander Mindadze. The previous three have told private stories of people in the midst of major disasters. The debut “Detachment” was inspired by the collision of aircraft over Lake Constance. In the film “On Saturday” the heroes tried to leave Pripyat the next day after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In the film Dear Hans, Dear Peter, Russian Peter and German Hans worked together at a factory to produce high-precision optics, only dimly feeling something in the air. Very soon the war will place them on opposite sides of the barricades.

Mindadze’s new film is also about a disaster (although this is not so obvious), or rather, even about her premonition. Old age creeps up to the heroes, and with it the fear of death, and the body is already failing. Flexibility has gone somewhere irretrievably, it is not even clear whether there is enough strength for the last spectacular dance chord. And there is no one to blame Cockatoo, Elizabeth and Valencia, only themselves and each other. Hence, then warm hugs and gentle touches, then unpleasant to the eye screams, swearing and hysteria. The catastrophe is just ahead, but the passions are already heated.

Why is Max mute in Max and Ruby” is cleverly arranged. On the one hand, one name emphasizes the theatricality of everything that happens, the whole action develops on the stage, on a specially created platform. There are no time or place indicators, the hotel is also the most abstract location. Often in films, such buildings, where crowds of people gather (airports, train stations, supermarkets), act as purgatory. Nowhere and everywhere, never and always. And almost nothing is known about the heroes themselves, some details sounded in passing in fragments of their dialogues. On the other hand, Kakadu, Valencia and Elizabeth speak, and the minor characters are exclusively in Russian. It can be assumed that their youth fell on the nineties, a time of hopes and great achievements. Now, 25 years later, disappointment has come. Therefore, they do not talk about those times, but other generations will not understand them.

The picture was shot by a wonderful cameraman Oleg Mutu, one of the fathers of the Romanian new wave, and now constantly collaborating with Sergei Loznitsa and Alexander Mindadze. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and In the Fog are just a few of his works. “Parquet” is all built on large and extra-large plans. There is something fascinating in this: either the camera is lost together with Kakadu at numerous guests and does not know itself where it will turn next, then we see only dancing legs, but the bodies seem to be gone. More often, the faces of the main trinity are in the frame. The slightest reactions of the heroes will not hide from Mutu, they are at the camera in the palm of your hand.

Mindadze himself admitted that he looked through dozens, if not hundreds, of domestic actors over 40 during the auditions, but he could not find the persons he needed. For some, they were too worn out from constant filming and the images already attached to them, while others did not have the necessary internal breakdown that the trinity of the main characters have. Thus, the leading roles were played by European stars: Poles Andrzej Hyra (“Wow Character Lookup” and “There Will Be No More Snow”) and Agatha Kulesha (“Ida” and “Cold War” ), as well as Israeli Yevgenia Dodina ( “Killing Eve” and “When the day wanes”).

It may seem surprising, but the former screenwriter in his directorial work deliberately attaches less and less importance to the word. And in this sense “Parquet” is the quintessence of Mindadze’s style: the heroes express their feelings through dance. You don’t need to look for their real in words, only in body movements.

And it seems like it’s time for the dancers to free the floor, and younger performers came to take their place. But where to go? What’s after tango? But what if only there is life in him? ..

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