Directed by L. Locmele.
Written by Alvis Lapins.
Starring: C. Glaudans, A. Licitis, Janis Strenga and M. Berzina.
Filmed in the waning days of the Soviet Union, "Svesais" (Stranger) is part road film, part mystical exploration and part social commentary. Filled with apocalyptic imagery, desperation and aimless nihilism L. Locmele's film takes us into a nightmarish world of alcoholism as seen through the eyes of a child who is losing his father to the bottle.
Having run out of options and tired of being embarrassed by his father, young Zigis (C. Glaudans) attempts to travel from Cesis, by whatever means available, to meet Zila Kalnu Marta, a real life faith healer played by Marta herself, in the hopes of finding a cure for his father. On the road to and back from Zilkalns Zigis runs into a cross section of characters representative of the stagnation that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. From well-meaning, if ineffective social workers and policemen, to nihilistic kids who steal simply for the sake of the thrill.
The film has a documentary feel to it, but at times comes across too strong. There are only so many times you can look at images of alcoholics destitute on the streets before you become inure to the image. While flawed in many small ways, mostly because of trying to hit the audience over the head with its message, it still manages to capture a small corner of the zeitgeist of the end of the Soviet era.