To Get To Heaven, First You Have To Die (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/11/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Engaging, quirky and often darkly funny drama with a great performance from first-time actor Khurched Golibekov.

What's it all about?
Directed by the delightfully named Djamshed Usmonov, this Tajikistan drama stars first-time actor Khurched Golibekov (the director's nephew) as blank-faced 20 year-old Kamal, a young husband who we first meet during a visit to the doctor (Djamshed Usmonov in a peculiar cameo), in which he confesses that his new wife is still a virgin because he is impotent. Doctor Usmonov advises him to try having sex with other women, so Kamal sets off on a... well... on a sex quest.

However, things don't quite go according to plan: his companion in a train sleeping car rejects him for being too young; he stops following another woman when he realises she teaches Tae Kwon Do; a third turns out to be married and he is unable to sleep with the prostitute procured for him by his cousin Said (Djonibek Mourodov) because she reminds him of his wife. Eventually he successfully seduces Vera (Dinara Droukarova), a woman he met on the bus, but events take a dark turn when her shifty husband (Maruf Pulodzoda) catches him in bed with his wife and forces him to accompany him during various nefarious activities.

The Good
This is an extremely weird, but strangely compelling film. Khurched Golibekov is superb as Kamal, his perpetually blank face giving nothing away at all times – this has an amusing pay-off when, during a break-in, the husband demands that Kamal puts on a dress and the film immediately cuts to a later scene, where his face reveals nothing. Usmonov also composes some genuinely striking shots throughout, most notably Kamal walking through a sea of women as they come out of a factory.

The Bad
The main problem lies with the film's rather controversial resolution, which sits at odds with the blackly comic tone of what's gone before.

Worth seeing?
To Get To Heaven, First You Have To Die is a dark, quirky and unusual film that's well worth seeing, though the ending may be a step too far for some.

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Content updated: 18/09/2018 15:18

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