Autumn Almanac

Autumn Almanac ★★★★½

A flat, steeped in ruinous decadence, permeated by the smoke of cigarettes and flaring tensions, hosting a series of struggles and conflicts that simmer and spill over like borscht left to boil. Dialogues are steeped in venomous spite, hostility hardly concealed. One man, a drunkard, hopelessly lost, groundless, seeks shelter within the claustrophobia, chased by unresolved debts and mounting poverty. Here he is met with blood, degradation, tenderness and something like self-awareness, though one that manifests crudely and brokenly. Another woman shares his longing for foundations, also finding shelter in exchange for the care she offers the old woman and owner of that space of conflict and decay. As she injects her, she unveils fears and desires, though spins different tales to the others, herself becoming tangled in the web of fantasies she spins with desperate familiarity. Over ritualistically smoked cigarettes, she ruminates on intimacy, though cannot overcome her mechanisms that only briefly drive out those pervasive fears. And the other man, son of the owner, seethes with an existential rage, vowing to kill his mother - a Raskolnikov of another time and space - to take her apartment and better his own life, for why should luxury fall to a mere louse? He flies into fits of despair, violently filling that flat with his flock of dark thoughts, furious and helpless. And the mother, the owner, is it any wonder how afraid she becomes, fraught with paranoia, dissolving into hysterics only to spit back and lash out with such voracity and strength, uncanny against the frailty of her condition. How you survive is a private affair… as Hamlet says, all the rest is silence. Her pride and resolve steel her against the petty conflicts that unfold around her, for though it is her space they infringe upon, each is entitled to it in their own ways, and each feeds off the other… it is like the air is poisoned, thick with curling smoke and each exhale releases with the stench of cigarettes all their simmering passions and torments, all their suffering so that by the end each separate struggle becomes one and the same thing, a writhing and contorting mass, or in other words, the tragedy of the human condition.

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