Not to be confused with The Purge series of films, this historical drama/modern day crime film follows 2 women from different generations and explores the similarities between their very different lives.
A young girl on the run in Estonia stumbles into the yard of an old woman who remembers worse times when Russian communists took control of the country. Told mostly in flashback to early communist times and to much more recent times in the modern sex trade, we soon learn that these two seeming strangers have a lot more in common than it first seems.
It is unclear throughout the movie how much either character knows about the other and their relationship to each other. It is only explicitly mentioned a couple of times and rarely in dialogue between the two women who form the core of this story. Most of the action occurs in flashback some of which is obviously dream or reverie but some could be the characters explaining their pasts to each other although this is never really shown on screen.
This leaves the viewer in possession of knowledge about the characters and their relationship that the characters may or may not share and which may or may not explain some of their later actions. This ambiguity is a little distracting from the rest of the plot.
Increasingly large amounts of the action focus on the older woman and her family during the years immediately before and after the communist take over of Estonia. The characters in the past face increasingly tough decisions and betrayals in their struggle to survive the oppression of communist rule. There is a lot more substance to the historical part of the story than the modern day parts which feel a lot more superficial. Some of these segments go on for so long that it is easy to forget that there is a story going on in the present time too.
It is a shame not to find out more about the younger woman and her flashbacks are generally restricted to showing the viewer how sordid and degrading it is to be caught up in the people trafficking and sex trades and feels mostly included for shock or titillation value rather than genuine plot or character development.
While this gives us a good background to explain some of the more questionable things she has done it is quite one sided and it would be nice for such a strong character to have a bit more depth and a more complex or detailed back story. It is also a shame never to see the modern day other members of either woman’s family as these characters and their relationships to each other play an important role in the story.
Everything is shot with a gritty realism and some scenes, especially those involving the communist soldiers and their methods for keeping the people in line are very uncomfortable to watch. This film is literally everything I know about the history of communism in Estonia so I can in no way comment on the historical accuracy but the realistic depiction of the scenes can be pretty harrowing in places.