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This is a film that starts grim and keeps on getting grimmer. The opening scene is a breakout from a Maternity hospital by the eponymous Ayka – a 25 year old Asian woman, who has apparently just suffered a miscarriage. She goes straight back to her old job as a chicken plucker just in time to see the foreman abscond with all their wages.

Ayka owes money to some nasty sorts who are threatening her and her sister, so she stumbles through Moscow looking for work, although she is bleeding profusely and can hardly walk. Getting a job is made more complicated as her papers are out of date. She returns to the unventilated room that she shares with dozens of other mainly Asian people.

On the next day she is briefly touched by the kindness of strangers. A cleaning woman offers Ayka her job while she looks after her sick son. The job is at a veterinary surgeon’s where the diamond collared pets are treated with more respect than the staff are. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, a Plot Spoiler happens. The film ends tragically with no sense that Ayka’s life could possibly improve.

I’m not really sure how to deal with films like this. It is very much a necessary film which takes us places that Blockbusters dare not tread. It is a truly sad story very well told. But its not much of a barrel of laughs.

I guess I admire the film a lot, and people should go and see it. But if you go expecting something like The Hangover Part 5, you may be somewhat disappointed.

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