Vodka, Putin, and political corruption, the modern state of Russian society is anything but stable. Arguably, the whole world is crumbling before our eyes, with America being another large hot mess. There’s just something so unique about Russia though. We’ve all seen skits and parodies about the lifestyle of the cold motherland, where alcohol and obsessive family traditions rule supreme. Mind you, these are just cliches. Although, with every caricature and stereotype, the perspective of these individuals/minorities always comes from a source of truth; a point of view. Most of the time, it’s biased; which leads into racist spouting hatred. In the case with the largest country in the world on the other hand, it’s arguable that these living conditions that are being constantly mocked, are ones which come from deep internal societal pity.
With Kirill Sokolov’s directorial feature-length debut Why Don’t You Just Die!, Sokolov’s experiences with living in the frozen vast environment of Russia is one that comes from personal observation. Utilizing cartoonish ultra-violent slapstick, dramatic irony, and familiar dynamics, Kirill’s vision ultimately adds to a razor sharp biting satire on greed, prosperity, and the selfishness of humanity. It may sound dense at first, yet the end result is one that’s surprisingly digestible and easy to comprehend. Largely taken place in one singular location, an apartment building where our supposed lead antagonist lives with his wife and daughter; the benefits from this three room residence, is one that contains all the unhinged action set pieces strictly in that small space. The result is a self-contained battlefield that feels vapid and successfully vivid.
Even more impressively, albeit the film’s occasionally gore and blood spurt; the violence feels strangely comical and relieving to view. Comparable to the works of Looney Tunes cartoons; the action in Why Don’t You Just Die! feels refreshing and consistently inventive. It can occasionally become brutal to watch, but largely you’ll laugh your ass off from pure giddy delight from the potent acts of devilish warfare between characters. Not to mention, that without the violence, there’s no real point to the film. Sokolov’s vision is one of dueling oppositions, to demonstrate the absurdity of avarice among close relatives; decisions of which that are influenced by the society they live in. Without the violence, one can argue that the content and thematic weight of the film would have gradually got out of hand, and may have created one hell of a snooze fest instead.
Urgent, demanding, and one hell of a crowd pleaser, Why Don’t You Just Die! is a winner all around. Featuring plenty of satisfying slapstick and some ingenious social commentary, you’ll be dancing along with the film’s iconic “FUCK YOU” chant by the time the final death hits. Write down the name Krill Sokolov in your books, because he’s going to be the next big thing, guaranteed!
Why Don’t You Just Die! screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Reel Suspects will release the film for a potential 2019 bow.