The romance of train travel is quickly derailed inJuho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 (Hytti nro 6) an unconventional love story that takes place as two strangers share a winter train journey through the Arctic Circle.
Set to the strains of Roxy Music’s Love is the Drug, the film opens in 1990s Moscow, where Finnish student Laura has become lovers with her urbane and glamorous professor Irina. Laura is excited about a planned joint trip to look at ancient petroglyphs, but Irina suddenly pulls out of the excursion, insisting Laura undertakes the long train journey to Murmansk on her own.
In compartment 6 of the train, she encounters her companion on the journey: Ljoha, a drunken lout who immediately insults her. She gets no joy from the take it or leave it conductress.
The relationship between the travellers looks as frosty as the snow and ice covered terrain their train traverses, but, slowly, thanks largely to a forced sharing of a table in the dining car, there is a thaw.
Think of Compartment No 6 as an arctic road movie, only on rails, with a one track mind, or perhaps, an attempt to find harmony and peace of mind in a world of chaos and anxiety. The core of the story lies in the notion of acceptance. A simple difference of approach. And of the dangers of initial face value impressions.
Initially, Ljoha presents as an oafish man, but a side bar adventure to his babushka and an impromptu act of kindness excavates his true character.
The two leads are superb – Seidi Haarla as Laura and Yuriy Borisov as Ljoha splendid as the opposites that find a comfortable companionship among a harsh and hostile terrain.
Get on board COMPARTMENT No. 6, IN CINEMAS NATIONALLY JULY 7
Classification: MA 15+ I Run Time: 107 minutes