FILM: The Stoker (15)

Not to be confused with Park Chan-wook’s erotically charged thriller Stoker, which was released in March, Alexey Balabanov’s 2010 tragi-comic drama paints a vivid portrait of life in 1990s St Petersburg.

Retired Major Ivan Matveyevich Skryabin (Mikhail Skryabin) suffered head injuries during his military service and was retired from action.

He now works as a stoker in the basement of an apartment block, shoving coal throughout the day into three furnaces that provide heat to the building.

A rogue’s gallery of mobsters and contract killers like Misha (Alexander Mosin) visit Ivan with the bodies of their latest kills, and ask the retired Major to incinerate the corpses in his furnaces, no questions asked.

When a shoe falls off one of these bodies, the chain reaction jeopardises Ivan’s humdrum life at the bottom of the Russian food chain.

Meanwhile, Ivan’s daughter (Aida Tumutova) and Misha’s daughter Masha (Anna Korotaeva), who are in business together, unknowingly compete for the affections of the same man: a mute sniper called Bison (Yuri Matveev).

Released: May 17 (UK, selected cinemas), 87 mins