Compartment No. 6 was Finland’s submission for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, and while it made the shortlist of 15 films in competition it ultimately did not garner an Oscar nomination. Relationships can blossom in the most unexpected places, like on a train where oftentimes you’re stuck sitting across from someone for hours with nowhere to go. Bonds are bound to be formed. And that’s what the film is all about. Compartment No. 6 is a suitable film with a charming story, although I found myself fascinated by its setting more so than its romance.
Laura (Seidi Haarla) was planning on taking a trip with her partner Irina (Dinara Drukarova) from Moscow to Murmansk to see the Kanozero Petroglyphs, but when Irina cancels at the last minute due to work, Laura is forced to embark on the journey by train alone. Her solitude is short-lived when she finds herself pair with a Russian named Lyokha (Yuri Borisov) who doesn’t seem all that friendly. With no other seats available, she sticks it out with Lyokha and the two eventually strike up a conversation that leads to a friendship and possibly more.
Compartment No. 6 is an interesting drama because it forces intimacy on both the characters and the audience. A majority of the film takes place inside a cramped train with little room to do much of anything. And yet director Juho Kuosmanen is able to capture so much and make wonderful use of every bit of space. I found myself constantly amazed how they could fit a camera in such a tight space and still move it around with such grace. The aisles alone are barely big enough for one person and yet there are times where a character will walk past the camera in a single shot. For me, the filming of the movie was more interesting than its story.
As the title suggests, Laura and Lyokha share the same tiny compartment on the train. Whether they like it or not, they’re forced to interact with each other. That leads to them discovering that not only are they able to tolerate each other, they actually kinda like each other. First impressions aren’t always everything, and that’s what Compartment No. 6 explores. It follows the relationship between these two people from its inception and shows their wants, dreams, fears, and happiness, all from the comforts of a train over the course of this one trip. It’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, but it is quite sweet and charming in its portrayal. Haarla and Borisov are great together on screen and they really complement each other well. They feel real as they try to navigate their romance.
Compartment No. 6 is all about the journey and not the destination. It’s intimate on every level, with grounded characters who deliver a whole range of emotions. The story isn’t anything audiences haven’t seen before, but that’s okay. The bond between Laura and Lyokha makes the film charming enough as it is.
Relationships can blossom in the most unexpected places, like on a train where oftentimes you’re stuck sitting across from someone for hours with nowhere to go. Bonds are bound to be formed. And that’s what the film is all about. Compartment No. 6 is a suitable film with a charming story, although I found myself fascinated by its setting more so than its romance.