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The Student(Ученик)

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Russia · 2016
Rated PG-13 · 1h 58m
Director Kirill Serebrennikov
Starring Viktoriya Isakova, Petr Skvortsov, Yuliya Aug, Alexandra Revenko
Genre Drama

Veniamin, a teenager in the midst of a mystical crisis, has his mother, schoolmates and entire high school turned upside down by his questions. Can girls go to their swimming classes in bikinis? Does sex education have a place in school? Should the theory of evolution be taught as part of the Natural Sciences? The adults are soon overwhelmed by the certitudes of the youngster who swears only by Scripture. No one but Elena, his biology teacher, will alone challenge him on his own ground.

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The Film Stage by

Even if it is visually up to the task, The Student is hobbled by its script and hog tied by its characters.


Time Out London by Cath Clarke

There is surely a sly attack here on the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin’s suppression of liberal values and demonisation of the LGBT community. As the tension escalates, there are some poking between the ribs questions too about free speech and facts in the post-truth era.

88 by Godfrey Cheshire

One of the strongest aspects of The Student is that, while its view of Venya’s beliefs is decidedly skeptical, it doesn’t ridicule him or suggest that others are immune to his Biblical zealotry.


Variety by Guy Lodge

The Student is a film that never stops to think; it thinks (and speaks, and shouts) while prodigiously on the move.


The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin

Offers both a universally relevant examination of religious zealotry and, at the same time, a damning, satirical look at modern Russia, a country whose major institutions have become increasingly dominated and cowed by medieval-minded reactionaries and bigots.


Total Film by Philip Kemp

Skvortsov gives a scarily grim-faced performance, with biology teacher Elena (Viktoriya Isakova) increasingly beleaguered as the only one resisting him.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

The Student makes a chilling allegory for the post-fact age (Russia invented it, remember), and a cautionary tale for cultures everywhere. There’s such a thing as being too tolerant of the intolerant.

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