Ulzan is a movie about a man named Charles (Philippe Torreton) struggling with a difficult and unnamed event in his past that has led him on a reckless journey into Kazakhstan’s interior. Sort of Leaving Las Vegas on the Steppe. In the opening scene, he tells a border guard on entering Kazakhstan asking, after looking dubiously at the bottles littering the passenger side of his car, “are you a vagabond?” “No, French.”
Two interesting characters join him as generally unwelcome compatriots on his journey: the gorgeous Ayanat Ksenbai as the title role, a woman who perhaps leads Charles to salvation; David Bennent as Saukuni, a travelling vendor who sells rare words.
It is a moving and charming film that just might be about redemption, but is absolutely about finding life where you are. As the film progresses, it becomes more and more interesting, the characters more and more compelling. I very much enjoyed it.