Stop-Zemlia (2021)

The directorial debut of Kateryna Gornostai, this film finds an introverted high schooler named Masha, who is only happy when she’s hanging out with two other ousiders, Yana and Senia. Yet how will young love change everything? After all, Masha is in love with Sasha, Yana is in love with Senia and Senia is in love with Masha.

Even though this takes place a world away — much less a world in danger of Russian troops coming into its borders and possible igniting World War III, which is hinted at in this movie when Senia attends a class explaining how to load an AK-47 — the lives of these teens don’t seem all that different from our country. And it reminds me — I’m glad that I am not growing up today with the pressures of identity, social media and nonstop harassment. It all seems so confining and full of anxiety even in comparison to my teen years in the 80s.

Gornostai started in documentaries and this movie uses that style throughout. It’s a really earnest and nuanced take on the perils of growing up. But yeah, I’m totally good with never being a teenager ever again.

Stop-Zemlia is available on Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vimeo from Altered Innocence.

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