Schizo movie review, Gulshat Omarova, Oldzhas Nusupbayev, Olga Landina, Eduard Tabishev. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'Schizo'
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(In subtitled Russian)
86 minutes | Unrated
LIMITED: Friday, April 22, 2005
Directed by Gulshat Omarova

Starring Oldzhas Nusupbayev, Olga Landina, Eduard Tabishev, Viktor Sukhorukov, Gulnara Yeraliyeva


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Blunt, beautifully photographed 'Schizo' sees soft young man slipping into remote Russian underworld

By Rob Blackwelder

Capturing the by-whatever-means-necessary survival instinct of a poor teenage boy in rural-industrial Kazakhstan, "Schizo" is a transporting film of deceptive simplicity.

It's both a gritty, gray coming-of-age story and an alternative film-noir yarn in which the soft-featured nascent ruffian learns the ropes of fixing bare-knuckle fights from his mother's criminal-fringe boyfriend. Soon he takes up with the stringy but pretty, 20-something girlfriend of a boxer killed in the ring, clumsily courting her, and her now-fatherless young son, with the cash, food and affection taken from their lives by his crooked enterprise -- although he's not exactly forthcoming with that bit of information.

Impulsive and erratic (thus the titular nickname), the kid takes to petty crime quickly, as it seems one of the few viable job options in the dilapidated region he traverses on the back of his mentor's motorcycle in beautifully yet coldly desolate wide-angle static shots -- by director Gulshat Omarova and cinematographer Hasanbek Kydyraliyev -- that effectively pull you into Schizo's world.

Young star Oldzhas Nusupbayev is remarkable in the title role, creating a sense that a formative moment is taking place in this boy's life by tempering his toughening skin and intuitive shrewdness with his quiet nature, wide eyes, nervous laugh and sponge-like eagerness as both crook and pubescent lover.

That shrewdness isn't enough to keep him out of danger, however, which is why the film has an unsettling undercurrent of unguarded tension. But Omarova -- who co-wrote with respected Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov ("Prisoner of the Mountains") -- lets the audience off the hook in an epilogue that feels somewhat pandering in its falsely upbeat nature, and thus incongruous with the matter-of-fact nature of the story.

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