Director Omarova gets across very successfully the bleakness of rural Kazakhstan, its dusty industrialism, barren landscapes and the ramshackle, desperate lives that pepper them. And she has a fine eye for the native population, capturing their expressive bearings and subtle dignities at work and play with a documentarian's skill. She also draws a fine performance from Nusuppaev in the lead role. No mere simpleton, his adolescent character jockeys back and forth between covert tenderness and near-ruthless pragmatism with barely discernible tweaks of mannerism; like the world in which he lives, Schizo is listless on the outside, but seething with life under the surface. It's too bad, then, that "Schizo" ends so suddenly and inexplicably. A "Dancer in the Dark" subplot involving further medical care for the boy and the consequences of a prison sentence drop out altogether, explained away with the simplest of voiceover dialogue. This seems especially odd considering the less than 90 minute running time, leaving one to wonder whether the filmmakers simply ran out of money--or imagination--before finishing production. Starring Olzhas Nusuppaev, Eduard Tabyschev and Olga Landina. Directed by Guka Omarova. Written by Guka Omarova and Sergey Bodrov. Produced by Sergey Bodrov, Sergey Selyanov and Sergey Azimov. A Picture This release. Russian-language; subtitled. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 83 min
The title character is a 15-year-old kid (Olzhas Nusuppaev) from Kazakhstan, burdened with the nickname by cruel schoolmates--although he just seems a tad slow. His mother dates local hood Sakura (Eduard Tabyschev), who first lets Schizo ride on his motorcycle, then offers him a job helping secure financially challenged thugs to bare-knuckle box for fast cash. After one fatally beaten pugilist entrusts the youth to take his earnings to his girlfriend Zina (Olga Landina), he falls for the older woman and begins showering her with gifts and money, earned by nefarious means. Schizo gets in over his head after he convinces his uncle to enter the ring, forcing the teen to go further than he ever thought he would need to in order to stand up for himself.