Irina Izmestieva’s “Picture Perfect”

Irina Izmestieva’s “Picture Perfect”, the premiere of which took place last night at Soho Hotel, is a powerful and touching story of separation, affection, tenderness and absolution. Irina is known for her previous films like “Hotel Narcissus”, “Sorpresa” and “Man 2 Man”.

The filmmaker’s concern about the length of the movie, which exceeded the usual 5-10 minute limit and extended to 30 minutes, turned out to be in vain – the only complains voiced afterwards were that the film went by too quickly. The main character, who underwent an impressive evolution during the film, disappeared so abruptly that for a while the viewer was left somewhat dismayed at his rather annoying way of leaving without saying goodbye, which went together with his typically English puritanism. 

For reference, her most recent film, Tourniquet, tells the story of a menage à quatre in an upper-class English mansion. Tourniquet won the audience award at the Riverside Studios screening and premiered at the East End Film Festival (London). The London Film Academy chose to screen it at the Berlinale and Cannes 2011.

The film’s genre, maybe be characterised in two words or less as: “More! More!!”. A representative of “Kommersant UK”, supported by a representative of “Anglia”, came to Irina in hope for some more of the deliciously captivating but very abruptly ended story. When asked about the message that she wanted to deliver, Irina told us that the motion picture is about love and forgiveness, and it was this matter that she considered most important. It is interesting, she said, if anyone will bring up in reviews the topic of forgiveness – after all, the word comes up only once in an uncharacteristically dramatic monologue that takes place on the main characters’ father’s grave, where there is finally an epiphany that no-one really saw coming. The hero, who has meticulously contained the pain of the loss of his loved as long as we have known him plus another fifty years since his love’s death, reveals it all in a slurred speech and tells his father that he is, after all, forgiven.

This does not go unnoticed – for anyone who has not seen the film, bear in mind the ending. “It was your fault she’s dead, but I forgive you.” – He spits out before staggering away in one of the several moments that brought tears to the author’s eyes, however, not forgetting, in typically English spirit, to dismantle the pathos by calling him an “old fool” with contempt for anything too showy.

A couple of technological trick caught attention, for instance, the picture coming alive, but, to be utterly honest, what actually caused tears was the usage of negative space – in the end, when the camera slides over the fields of lavender and we hear the girl’s content laughter, although she’s not in the picture, there’s a sense of unmatched and unprecedented serenity, which is at the same time very dramatic.

“Sometimes we find books we write, and sometimes the books find us” – The old adagio goes, and this was definitely the latter case. Out of a vast majority of contenders she chose this scenario because it made her cry in the end. By the way, the author has no excuse, being a man brought up in a sadly traditional “Men don’t cry/Terminator” scenario and can only blame it on the mastery of the producer.

“Something clicked” – she says – “And, as it goes with love, I just knew”. Despite numerous difficulties while filming, during which she was advised to not go on, she insisted and brought the film to it’s brilliant conclusion. The author’s deep gratitude (and his colleague’s equally deep regret about the shortness of it) – is a guarantee that this was a success, at least as far as Kommersant UK is concerned. We don’t need to wish Irina luck – only to continue in the same vein and perhaps with two-hour-long film next time.

Nikita Kolesnikoff for Kommersant UK from London 2013