‘The Student’ (Russia)
The Chicago International Film Festival continues through Oct. 27 at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois.
Adapting a topical play by Marius von Mayenburg, Kirill Serebrennikov directs an unsettling case study of a Christian teen in the time of Putin, an Orthodox Christian. Russia’s new state curriculum on “basics of religious culture and secular ethics” has yet to trickle down to Kaliningrad’s school system.
Venya (Petr Skvortsov) skips co-ed gym class because bikinis are sinful. He shouts Biblical verse; some 43 scriptural citations appear on screen. Neither his mother, an Orthodox priest, nor the principal can discipline the increasingly vehement evangelist. He tears off his clothes to rail against fornication when the school psychologist teaches sex ed using condoms on carrots. Attempting miracles and smiting sinners are next.
Serebrennikov deploys ornery irony in this scathing critique of a self-radicalized fundamentalist and local unbelievers. Yes, that is “God Is God”— by Slovenian fake-fascist band Laibach — you hear on the soundtrack. 2:30 p.m. Oct 17