A lurid, overlong psychological drama from Azerbaijani writer-helmer Ilgar Safat

A photographer specializing in provocative photos of nude women is forced to revisit traumatic incidents from his past in “The Precinct,” a lurid, overlong psychological drama from Azerbaijani writer-helmer Ilgar Safat. Spiced with supernatural imagery, archival footage of early 20th-century Baku and visits to the ancient rock carvings at the Unesco world heritage site Gobustan, pic plays like a mash-up of Giuseppe Tornatore’s “A Pure Formality” and film noir. Azerbaijan’s Oscar submission might find offshore fest slots as a curiosity item; limited Stateside run begins Dec. 3.

During an argument with fiancee Sabina (Melissa Papel), photographer Garib (Zaza Bejashvili) loses control of his car. After a fiery crash, the garishly bleeding couple winds up at a derelict police precinct, where the mocking chief (Vagif Ibrahimoglu) mysteriously knows everything about their lives. Pic cuts between this shadowy purgatory and Garib’s adolescence in a dusty, sun-drenched village where he (soberly played by Timur Odushev) is exploited by a gang and compelled to print pornographic photos. Thesping by an ethnically diverse cast mixes nightmarish stylization and naturalism to uneasy effect. Pic was shot entirely on 35mm; tech aspects are fine.

By Alissa Simon 2010-11-14