Perhaps the grass is always greener on the other side of the Bering Sea. That seems to be the basis for Phillipp Yuryev’s premier feature film The Whaler Boy.
Teenaged Leshka lives in a remote whaling village on the edge of the Bering Straits. He and the other men go out to kill whales, that they use to feed the whole village. This is a village without girls. His friend Kolyan invites him to come with him to the next village to find some girls, but their motorbike breaks down on the way. The only chance he has to even see a girl is an erotic chatroom online. He becomes infatuated with an American girl, HollySweet_999.
Leshka spends a lot of time watching HollySweet_999, trying to talk to her through the computer screen. Even trying to learn English. He becomes jealous of others who pay attention to her. After he gets into a fight with Kolyan over her, Leshka decides to take a boat and cross the straits into the US and begins walking until he gets to her, where he’s sure he’ll win her heart.
This is a hazardous crossing, not only the sea, but he must also deal with poachers and ICE. Even after all that, he doggedly sets off across the tundra on his way to Detroit. Yeah, he doesn’t seem to understand geography in the least.
The film has some very interesting visual aspects, especially when he comes to what seems to be a whale graveyard in the midst of the tundra. The storyline, however, never quite comes together. Leshka’s naivete is endearing, but is not enough to keep the film consistently engrossing. But the film does at least end with a revelation for him. The grass may be greenest where there are people you know and love. For that you don’t need to brave the ocean and another continent.
The Whaler Boy is in select theaters, on virtual cinema, and available on VOD.
Photos courtesy of Film Movement.