Rhino (2022)

Director: Oleh Sentsov

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Serhii Filimonov, Evhen Chernykov, Yevhen Grygoriev, Alina Zievakova, Mariia Shtofa, Irina Mak, Serhiy Smiyan, Dmytro Lozovskyi

Aggression opens the film, as a young boy destroys sunflowers before fighting with a gang of boys. As the child returns home with visible injuries, writer/director Oleh Sentsov inventively depicts the passage of time by stitching scenes together to resemble a single-take. This excellent sequence depicts years of love and tragedy within the same small house, showcasing how the boys anger became fine-tuned to make him a dangerous man, in a high-point the remaining film cannot reach.

Out of this sequence walks Vova (Serhii Filimonov), the aggressive boy who's now a volatile man that spends his time either with his girlfriend Marina (Alina Zievakova) or getting into fights. Vova picks a fight with the wrong person as he finds his family threatened, forcing him to join a criminal gang to settle his debt, where he's given the nickname "Rhino".

Working his way up as an integral member, Vova proves himself to be a cunning leader while getting married, suffering loss, and finding old faces bringing danger as they resurface. If that sounds like a rushed description, it's fitting considering how rapidly the film skims over such important parts of the characters life. This is especially true regarding key deaths, as the lacking emotional impact makes them resemble a tired obligation. There's more interest in taking the shortcut through heavy-handed exposition, as opposed to showing such experiences.

This is particularly noticeable in the framing device, as Vova recounts his life story to a mystery man in a car. As he mournfully looks back upon his actions, worrying that he's now hollow inside, it's unfortunate there didn't seem to be such an opportunity for Filimonov to convey such feelings. This tale of aggression destroying everything has been depicted many times before, yet Sentsov does little to make this iteration of that familiar story stand apart.

Rhino is available on Digital Download from 16th May