A virus tears through Russia in the eerily timely trailer for Petrov’s Flu

In the latest feature from Kirill Serebrennikov, a resurrected corpse is just one oddity in the surreal grab-bag.


Charles Bramesco


We’ve all gotten used to a homebound lifestyle over what will soon be the past two years, but Russia’s most embattled filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov is no stranger to such isolating conditions. Placed under house arrest in 2017 on a questionable charge of fraud (his outspoken dissidence toward the government may have had something to do with it), he’s had plenty of time to consider the solitude and alienation we’re now taking for granted.

These two sources of disconnection combine in his latest feature, the Cannes-feted Petrov’s Flu, the official trailer for which appeared online today. Shooting under cover of night while representing himself by day, Serebrennikov has channeled recent absurdities and frustrations into a story that tackles the pandemic in blunt terms, yet at an angle.

In the post-Soviet suburb of Yekaterinburg, the auto mechanic Petrov (Semyon Serzin) finds that he and his family have come down with a vicious sickness. As they do their best to convalesce, reality starts collapsing around them, most notably in the subplot concerning a reanimated corpse and the Frankensteinian figure responsible for it, the oddball Igor (Yuri Kolokolnikov).

Mark Asch, our man in Cannes last year, did his best to pin down this strange specimen of a film in his review, writing that “This is breathtaking filmmaking, but would be a little hard to take for two-and-a-half hours. Thankfully, Serebrennikov has more tricks up his sleeve.” He reserved praise for the “blind-drunk grotesques” in “what is essentially a literal fever dream about contemporary Russia in all its dark, outsized, incredulous glory.”

Serebrennikov’s latest will soon take its place alongside the recent Bad Luck Banging in the emerging canon of sharp COVID-commenting films, presenting a vision of a present-day Russia reeling from distrust and violence. While English-language cinema still awaits its first pandemic masterpiece, this will certainly provide some pointers for those who dare to try.

Petrov’s Flu comes to cinemas in the UK on 11 February.

Published 10 Jan 2022

Tags: Kirill Serebrennikov Petrov’s Flu

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