Nosorih is not a gangster movie, not in the conventional sense, derivative and codified by Scorsese and other american filmmakers. It has similar aims to another film that premiered at Venice, Captain Volkonogov Escaped, and succeeds better. What it definitely proves as a film is that Oleh Senstov’s validity as a filmmaker is way beyond the controversy raised by his political detention.
A story of violence set in the late 90s, centered on a young gangster who rises in the ranks of an ukrainan mob, a scheme that has been frequently seen in gangster movies such as the ones by the likes of Scorsese and De Palma. Rhino brings a new element to the table: guilt. In a genre that more then often is dominated by graphic violence and a sense of entertainment, Rhino is a flm in which violence has consequences on the psyche of the perpetrator and sets off a very different outcome than the usual “downfall” storyline. In other words, Rhino uses traditional conventions of the gangster action blockbuster genre but points at a different moral ending: the violence that is depicted, extremely graphic, is also negatively connotated. The ending has a metaphysical quality, very uncommon to a ground based genre like that of crime films. The impossibility of redemption is what makes Rhino a very mature film.
Moreover, Senstov proves to be an excellent filmmaker. He has directed only one feature film, Gámer, not received positively at all, and a stageplay, Nomery. Directed while under arrest, it was a dystopia that inherits maybe too much from Orwell. Nonetheless, Rhino is definitely valid proof of his worth. Senstov employs great visual solutions and alternates between styles with confidence. The opening 15 minutes of the film feature one of the best fake long take sequences of the last years, that sums up decades of family history through a seemingly uncut sequence set entirely in a living room, with an ever-in-motion camera, a truly striking scene that alone itself carries the entire film.
Rhino is by far not a perfect film. Despite its intentions, more than often the result falls short of the true emotional investment. It nonetheless toys with interesting concepts and features outstanding techniques and scenes that make it a worthwhile film.