|Directed by||Sergei Loznitsa|
|Produced by||Oleh Kokhan|
|Written by||Sergei Loznitsa|
|Edited by||Danielius Kokanauskis|
My Joy (Russian: Счастье моё, translit. Sčasťje mojo; Ukrainian: Щастя моє, translit. Ščastja moje) is a 2010 Ukrainian road movie directed by Sergei Loznitsa. It is set in the western regions of Russia, somewhere near Smolensk. My Joy was the first Ukrainian film ever to compete for the Palme d'Or.
It is summer, and young driver Georgy takes his light truck on a trip to another town with a cargo of flour. He is stopped at a road police post by a pair of rude and corrupt policemen. While they are flirting with the woman they stopped earlier, Georgy manages to grab his papers and leave unnoticed. There he picks up a hitchhiker, an old man who recounts him a disturbing story: soon after World War II, while returning home from the front, a corrupt military officer brazenly robbed him by threatening him with arrest if he did not comply. He later shot the officer in retaliation. Later when Georgy parks his truck and steps out and shortly returns, the old man has disappeared.
Later Georgy meets an underage prostitute. He takes pity on the girl and gives her some money and food, but she is offended by his charity, insults him and leaves.
Later still, Georgy is lost in the night and decides to camp in the field until dawn. Three locals approach and try to steal from the truck, only to be stopped by Georgy. They distract his attention with some neutral conversation, telling him how one of their friends is a mute because someone killed his father in front of him when he was a child. Suddenly one hits Georgy on the head with a log and he loses consciousness.
The scene shifts to the times of World War II. Early in the war, two Soviet soldiers from a defeated unit cautiously feel their way through the occupied land in the deep German rear. They enter a lone house where a widowed teacher lives with his infant son. The teacher is kind to the soldiers and provides them with much-needed food and shelter. However, the soldiers regard his pacifism and indifference towards the German invaders as treasonous, so they kill him, rob the house, and continue on their way, leaving the child to his own devices.
The scene shifts back to the present. Some time has passed. It is winter, and Georgy lives in the same house that once was the teacher's. The blow has left him feeble-minded and mute. He walks around bearded, dilapidated, with a blank stare. The woman living in the house keeps him as a sex slave while she trades his flour on the local market. A policeman approaches and tells her that Georgy and his truck are being searched for, so she had better get rid of both. Georgy is beaten by the locals and detained by the police, only to be released the next night when another inmate challenges the lone guard to a fight, beats him unconscious, and unlocks the cells.
The woman sells Georgy's truck and leaves the place, abandoning him in the snowcapped village. Homeless, he wanders about being driven off by the locals, until he collapses from exhaustion. He is found and picked up by the old man whom he earlier gave a ride.
A military van comes to the village, carrying two servicemen tasked with delivering the body of a deceased soldier to his native place. Their daunting task is not made easier by the fact that one of them, an officer, suffers from delirium tremens. Unable to locate the relatives of the dead soldier, they decide to bribe some random people into signing the papers and leave the body to them. They approach the old man, who at first is suspicious but eventually agrees. However, shortly afterwards Georgy walks out of the house to find the old man dead. It is hinted that he may have been axed by the officer, who in his alcoholic delusion mistook him for someone else.
Georgy numbly grabs the old man's pistol and walks out to the road, where he is picked up by a very talkative truck driver, who rambles about the importance of not meddling in other people's affairs. Meanwhile, on the road the same two police officers from the beginning of the movie stop a police major and his wife. When they begin to write him up for a burnt-out headlight, the major attempts to bribe and intimidate them. When this fails and he turns to leave, a fistfight ensues, with the major handcuffed and brutally beaten. To produce two fake witnesses of his arrest, they stop another car, which is the truck with Georgy. They easily threaten the driver into signing the papers, but when they turn to Georgy, he stands silently. A fight breaks out, and one of the policemen pulls out an assault rifle. Georgy instantly shoots him dead, then everyone else. Still clutching the pistol, he staggers out into the dark.
- Viktor Nemets as Georgy
- Olga Shuvalova as teenage prostitute
- Vlad Ivanov as Major from Moscow
- Dmitri Gotsdiner as train station Superintendent
The film was a co-production between Germany's Ma.ja.de, Ukraine's Sota Cinema Group and the Netherlands' Lemming Film. The film was shot in Ukraine as a condition for receiving money from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, but most of the 1.5 million Euro budget came from Germany. According to the director there are about 140 cuts in the whole film. Vlad Ivanov's Russian was dubbed as he is a Romanian actor.
There was a considerable outcry in Russian media over the film's purported Russophobic slant. Film director Karen Shakhnazarov claimed that Loznitsa would like everyone living in Russia to be shot. But another Russian film director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, called My Joy the best Russian-language film of the decade.
The film received positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of professional critics gave the film a positive review. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 78/100 based on the reviews of eight critics. Among American reviewers, Manohla Dargis (The New York Times) referred to the movie as "suspenseful, mysterious, at times bitterly funny, consistently moving and filled with images of a Russia haunted both by ghosts and the living dead". A blurb in Sight & Sound advertises My Joy as "Ukraine’s answer to Deliverance". Village Voice (Michael Atkinson) reviewed My Joy as "a maddening vision and one of the year's must-see provocations.
Awards and nominations
The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May. At the 7th Yerevan Golden Apricot International Film Festival in July, the film won the Silver Apricot Special Prize.
- "Schastye Moe (My Joy)". festival-cannes.com. Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- Galetski, Kirill (17 May 2010). "Q&A: Sergei Loznitsa". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 21 May 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
- "Счастье мое, я твой хаос". gazeta.ru. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- "Кино по пятницам, эфир 10 декабря". moskva.fm. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- My Joy. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "A Tale of Russia Haunted by Ghosts and the Living Dead". NY Times. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- "Sight & Sound: July 2010". sightandsound. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- "A Trucker's Bizarre Drive, Chaos at Every Turn, in My Joy". villagevoice.com. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- "Golden Apricot International Film Festival". gaiff.am. Retrieved 1 January 2011.