A Soviet film from 1962 with a rather misleading title. I wonder if anyone here has seen it - I'd never heard about it before. I happened to catch it at a local screening, a couple who shows pretty esoteric films on a semi-regular basis in their backyard. There's a scarcity of information about it online, but it really deserves more attention.
It's a coming of age film made at the height of Khrushchev's Thaw, so it has virtually none of the propaganda flavor one expects in Soviet films. The film is admittedly uneven, with several scenes that feel pretty stilted, and it is very resolutely Russian (including recitations of Lermontov and scenes from Chekhov - made more disorienting by the fact that whoever did the subtitles on the copy we watched refused to translate quotations). But it's also one of the most earnest and fragile films I've seen on the subject of early adolescence, with a multitude of moments that ring so achingly, awkwardly true, and it has that peculiarly Slavic gift for evoking the poetics of quotidian life. Most movingly, it captures the female protagonist's delicate, conflicted relationships with the men in her life, namely her estranged father, his adopted foster son (also her first crush), and her childhood friend, a Mongolian boy who begins falling for her as she falls for the other boy.
In fact, even the parts of the film that felt stiff and forced came across as touching, as if they were part of a deliberate design. The film itself is like the experience of adolescence, with its growing pains, its mix of awkwardness, fading childhood purity, and emotional turmoil.
I don't usually post screen grabs or video clips when I talk about films, but this film is so underseen and so worthy, I feel like it's necessary to give some idea of what it's about, so I scrounged a few glimpses from a Google search. In spoilers below.