REVIEW: БоксБалет [BoxBallet] [2021]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 15 minutes
    Release Date: 2021 (Russia)
    Studio: Melnitsa Animation Studio
    Director(s): Anton Dyakov
    Writer(s): Anton Dyakov & Andrey Vasilyev

While a coup attempt against Russian President Boris Yeltsin unfolds at the parliament in 1993, a beautiful ballerina named Olga and a beaten-down boxer named Evgeny cross paths on the subway. The encounter lasts but a second with the former not even registering that it had before exiting the train car. If not for his television changing to static after news reports of the violence on the streets (147 people were killed with 437 others left wounded), that might have been the end of it. Instead, Evgeny leaves his apartment to find Olga outside crying about her cat caught in the tree. Ever the specimen of chivalrous masculinity despite his rough appearance, his pugilist climbs up to retrieve it before falling to the ground. A friendship is born.

Director Anton Dyakov and co-writer Andrey Vasilyev‘s БоксБалет [BoxBallet] continues through cross-cut sequences of her rehearsals and his fights. Olga confronts the lecherous advances of her director, forcing a choice between personal safety and career advancement. Evgeny confronts a shelf-life long-since overdue as younger and better fighters use him as a punching bag to almost comedic effect (the boxing matches are rendered as stoic fighters being met by lightning-fast fists whether first-person or in profile). It’s beauty and brawn clashing at a moment of general strife with a sense of anxiety as far as whether they can exist in the other’s world. Her wanting to spend time with him as he disappears for the night to track down her purse-snatcher. Him replenishing her sugar with a 50-lb sack.

The question is thus whether one or the other will take the plunge and try. Even if he decides to get dressed up for her performance or if she chooses to watch him get bloodied and bruised, however, the other will have to meet them halfway. That’s the struggle. Risk everything you have now for the promise of love? And at a time when all-out civil war might break at any moment with Swan Lake playing on the TVs to block all updates about the coup? Nothing concerning this unplanned relationship is simple and yet we wish it could be so his saggy, potato-faced brute and her long-legged, elegant dancer might receive their happily-ever-after against all odds. With each abrupt cut to black, we pray the tides turn.

courtesy of ShortsTV

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