COMPARTMENT NO. 6 gets 6/10 Train-ing days

Directed by Juho Kuosmanen

Starring Seidi Haarla, Yuri Borisov


Two unlikely individuals meet up in a train compartment, and soon both their lives change. We’ve seen this plenty of times before in thrillers (Strangers on a Train) and romances (Before Sunrise), and so a film like Compartment No. 6, although a very handsomely made film, doesn’t feel particularly new.

Finnish student Laura (Seidi Haarla) meets Russian miner Lyokha (Yuri Borisov) in the train compartment they share, when she is travelling to Russia to inspect some petroglyphs. Although they’re icy with each other at first, over a series of vignettes they start to warm to each other. They have a number of interactions over lunch, dinner, and train breaks, but there’s little tangible sense of why and how these two are being drawn to each other.

There are a few impressive shots, particularly at the end when the duo is no longer on the train, but at the wreck of a different kind of vehicle, in what looks like the coldest part of Russia (ie the coldest part of the world). Although unsure of itself, there has been care given to crafting these two characters, with both actors doing well to fully establish them both.

When they’re not being fully friendly nor being romantic, their relationship seems to be somewhere in the confusing middle, which the film can’t tenderly balance. Does this pair become an item, meaning that Laura is cheating on her girlfriend back at home? The film seems to want to keep this vague, which means having little consideration for Laura’s homelife.

Compartment No. 6 seems so unsure about where it wants to take this relationship and what to do with it. There’s no joyous spark like in Before Sunrise, nor the thoughtful consideration of infidelity like in Brief Encounter. This film finds itself stuck, at least in some well shot scenes, with the push-pull tension of its central couple. It is indeed a well-shot film, even making the most out of confined spaces, but the film suffers the existential issue of why it has been made, when better films that are so similar have been made before.


Compartment No. 6 plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, February 14 to Sunday, February 30. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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