Marusya Syroechkovskaya is a suicidal teenager when she meets troubled Kimi Morev. She knows right away that she has found a kindred spirit. “He had scars on his wrists and he knew every single Joy Division song by heart,” she says in the voice-over of her personal debut film. But where love gives her a new perspective, he fights his demons with more and more drugs. So Syroechkovskaya focuses her ambitions on recording the loss of her loved one.
How to Save a Dead Friend, which has won awards at festivals including Visions du Réel in Switzerland, is more than a portrait of a hopeless drug addict. Syroechkovskaya shows how many of her contemporaries are struggling with childhood trauma and a lack of prospects. Drugs and suicide take a heavy toll among Russian millennials. “Life is merciless,” Morev concludes, after he’s locked up in a state hospital for addicts.