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Beneath the Radar: To Get to Heaven, First You Have to Die

Djamshed Usmonov's third feature is a fantastically inventive and daring look at a young man's increasingly desperate attempts to remedy his impotency. Kamal (Khurched Golibekov) is newly-wed and unab...

Djamshed Usmonov's third feature is a fantastically inventive and daring look at a young man's increasingly desperate attempts to remedy his impotency.

Kamal (Khurched Golibekov) is newly-wed and unable to satisfy his wife in bed. After a fruitless visit to a specialist and his inability to perform with a prostitute, he takes to hitting on girls in the street. He picks up Vera (Dinara Droukarova) but his attempts at conducting an affair are interrupted by the return of her hoodlum husband (Maruf Palodzoda). He becomes implicated in increasingly chaotic criminal adventures and finds sexual potency, but at what cost?

This is a dual assault on the concept of masculinity with Kamal’s attempts to find a remedy for his condition leading to criminal activity which, in turn, give him the inspiration to perform. His quest for virility takes many an intriguing turn and Golibekov is thoroughly convincing, given that he is not a professional actor. He has great support here from Droukarova and Paludzoda, who lead the young man into ever more dangerous situations.

The originality of the narrative is matched by the visual presentation, with the action being captured in a series of long takes which is both technically outstanding and involving. It marks what may become a trademark style for the director, making the aesthetic work hard for the story. 

To Get to Heaven, First You Have to Die is showing on 24 and 25 August at Cineworld.

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