Core of the World is about a man, Egor (Stepan Devonin) a veterinarian working in an animal training facility. He loves animals more than he loves people. This means that this Russian movie already has its place in the global market. Jokes aside, the film competently juggles the plot lines concerning Egor. Like him caring for a dog while reeling after the death of his estranged, alcoholic off screen mother. He also must deal the volatile whims of his boss Nikolai (Dmitriy Podnozov).
Devonin co-wrote Core of the World with Boris Khlebnikov and director Natalya Meshchaninova. His strong performance anchors this movie though. As Egor, he’s magnetic even at times when he’s observing other characters converse. He shows off his steady hand as he deals with certain situations. This is true with or without the presence of other characters. Those who can’t handle themselves or want him to make the wrong decisions. The movie, of course, wonders what makes him tick and answers that question with subtlety.
The ward winning and controversial Natalya Meshchaninova co-wrote and directed this movie. Here, she switches from bleak Siberia to the greener yet nonetheless still isolating area at Russia and Latvia border. She incorporates some great shadow play here. But most of the time she beautifully frames the exterior and interior lives of her characters. And she does so without a sense of pretentious choreography. Her compositions hint at what drives these people together and apart. This is a realism without the unnecessary bleakness.