How do you start over after experiencing a living hell? Kantemir Balagov's second film confirms him to be one of Russia's most interesting young filmmakers. The film transports audiences to the ashes of post-WWII Leningrad where bashful nurse Iya, aka Beanpole, falls into a strange state of dementia. When her friend, energetic Masha, comes back from the front, the two women experience a tragedy together. In Balagov's film, war has the exhausted face of a female comrade who rarely receives a hero's homecoming. The women's ambiguous relationship, navigating between desire for love, manipulation and cruelty, allows the director of Closeness to show life as experienced with war trauma, the baggage of unbearable experiences. Beanpole is stuffy cinema, much like shared Soviet housing, brimming with suppressed emotions, but also penetrating and unafraid of risk. For this penetrating vision, the young Russian received two awards at the last Cannes festival in the Un Certain Regard section.