“All my poems are about love and death; there are no other themes” – wrote Boris Ryzhy, the famous young Russian poet in 2000. “But despite everything, I’m happy with my wife and son.” A year later this charming hooligan poet hung himself. He was just 26 years old.
As the filmmaker embarks on a quest to understand the reasons for his suicide, she reveals the hidden tragedy of the lost perestroika generation, to whom Boris gave a voice. “We were thrown out of communism, but never reached capitalism” as his young widow puts it. The perestroika years of the Jeltsin era, which the West associated with democracy and freedom, felt very different in the lawless streets of Yekaterinenburg, where gangsters slaughtered each other on a daily basis. In the snow-covered cemetery the faces of Boris’ classmates stare out from black marble tombstones.
But despite this grim reality, it’s a poetic film with a tragic-comic touch. It’s ultimately about Boris’ love for life: through his poems, pain is transformed into grace.