Timelier than perhaps intended, Kirill Serebrennikov’s (Leto) hazy fever dream set in a flu-stricken, semi-dystopian post-Soviet Russia is a confronting, elusive vision of life in an eternally wintry hellscape.
Director Kirill Serebrennikov wrote the screenplay for Petrov’s Flu while under house arrest. Now free (to a degree, as he is still prohibited from leaving Russia), the filmmaker returns swinging with this visionary, nightmarish nocturnal odyssey through an urban Russian cityscape seemingly on the brink of collapse.
Comic book artist Petrov is tossed from one chaotic set piece to another – a night bus jam-packed with grotesqueries; a hearse carrying a corpse that may not be entirely dead; an alien abduction; encounters with his ex-wife (who doubles as an avenging superhero mowing down abusive men in the area) – all while grappling with a debilitating flu that spreads its tendrils across the cast of characters as the film progresses (a chilling parallel to the world we find ourselves in now). Simmering beneath it all is a devastatingly sharp critique of a country in the grip of an unfeeling and uncaring state.