A Young Mongol Herder and a Livestock Plague
Bagi (Batzul Khayankhyarvaa, a non-professional actor) is a young Mongol herder sharing a yurt with his depleted family on their ancestral steppes, leading much the same subsistence life that his people have lived for a millennium. One day, state officials arrive bearing prophecy of a livestock plague, and the family is rounded up and slotted into worker housing in a toxic mining town. Co-directors Brosens and Woodworth, both of whom have done documentary work in Mongolia, are fine when indulging their photojournalistic impulses, scouring the poured-concrete ruins of Soviet-era architecture to compile a portfolio of images from this little-known world. But Khadak recedes deeper and deeper into esoterica as it progresses, turning into a kind of oblique ecological protest as Bagi connects with a renegade troupe of avant-garde musicians opposing the authoritarian state. The rebellion never achieves the mythopoeic visual potency it strives for; while passably adopting several familiar modes of art-house stylethe minimalism of figures in a gaping landscape, excruciatingly paced anomie, vague apocalyptica, monumentalist spectacleKhadak doesn't exhibit full, dynamic fluency in any of them.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.