Strangers of Patience was screened as part of the HFPA’s Foreign Language Film Series this year and accepted for Golden Globe consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Andrey (Konstantin Lavronenko) is a well-known artist-photographer who lives alone in a big city with his Labrador Charley. While preparing for an important international exhibition, he meets Marina, a charming young woman (Polish actress Maja Szopa) who turns out to be deaf and mute. He offers her to become his model for art photography.
Andrey brings Marina to his place, takes the photos and keeps her at his place for the night. The same thing happens on the second day, and, on the third day, he doesn't let her go, either. Finally, Marina understands that she is a prisoner and tries to escape. What at the outset could have been a prelude to an inspiring love story morphs into a nightmarish scenario.
Marina becomes incredibly inventive. She makes several new attempts at escape but fails every time, making her already bad situation even worse, because Andrey progressively becomes a slave driver. The intricate psychological duel of these two uncommon people is the dramatic key to the film, which can be interpreted as a metaphor for art itself, which needs a sacrifice from the artist and his object.
“In the 90s”, says director Vladimir Alenikov, “I produced the TV series Loves of the Greats. It told stories from the lives of great people and to my surprise, I found that many of the geniuses we admire often overstepped common moral boundaries. And then I thought about how far an artist obsessed with his work can go. What he is and is not entitled to. Do the ends justify the means? And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to properly understand this issue.”
Konstantin Lavronenko was previously awarded the Silver Palm for Best Actor at the Cannes International Film Festival for his role in Russian film The Banishment (2007). For her role in Strangers of Patience, Maja Szopa was awarded the Best Actress prize at the 42nd Montreal World Film Festival.