Cannes Film Festival Review: Kira Kovalenko’s ‘Unclenching the Fists’

There are few cliches in film criticism that will induce more eye rolls than the claim that a location is so vividly realized that it becomes a character in its own right. But then, few films in recent memory have been quite like Unclenching the Fists, the sophomore feature from director Kira Kovalenko, premiering in the Un Certain Regard strand of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It’s one of the most striking cinematic portrayals of an abusive family home not because of its explicitness, but because of how effectively it frames a wider setting that feels just as stifling. In this case, it's Mazur -- a former coal mining town in the North Caucasus.  Mazur is the kind of town that offers zero prospects to its young people, leavi
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