Tulpan is one of those movies. Asa lives on the steppes of Kazakhstan with his sister and her family. He's ready to start a life of his own, but the only single woman in the area, Tulpan, repeatedly rejects him. He holds out hope, for her and for a better life for himself, in the hopeless setting of the steppe.
I didn't get too caught up in this slice of life story, but I did enjoy the realistic portrayal of these steppe dwellers. It's hard to imagine a bleaker landscape. No features in any direction. No trees, no hills, no buildings, just open space with their hut and stables set up in the middle of it. Throughout Tulpan I found myself thinking of Abraham in Genesis. Surely this life is not much different from Abraham's, living in a tent out in the middle of a plain, keeping livestock to get by.
Asa's family herds sheep, and the film is full of other animals running around. The sheep play a pivotal role. Several are stillborn, but Asa accidentally tracks down one of the pregnant sheep who had wandered off and assists in a successful live birth. That's something you don't see everyday: an actual live animal birth on film! A beautiful thing.
|The vet of the steppe with his animal transport.|
So don't expect much tension or development when you watch Tulpan. It's there, just very low-key. But if you're curious about life in pastoral Kazakhstan, Tulpan is an enjoyable treat.
Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.