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4

A grim snapshot of life in poverty-stricken Eastern Europe

Ulrich Seidl's follow-up to 2001's Dog Days is another foray into a Central European underbelly, lifting the lid on the bleak realities facing the flux of human traffic that criss-crosses the continent in search of work.

In two mirroring strands a Ukrainian nurse (Ekateryna Rak), travels to Austria in hope of a better life but ends up as a cleaning woman in a geriatric ward, while Pauli (Paul Hofmann), after getting fired from his security guard job, takes a trip with his randy stepdad to deliver arcade machines to the Ukraine.

Shot during a tangibly icy cold snap, Seidl's film reveals the desperation of two people scrabbling to survive within wretched economic circumstances. Yet his unerring eye for the absurdity of human behaviour and the rituals we invent for ourselves makes this a blackly humorous treat.

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