‘Yellow Cat’ Review: A Movie-Obsessed Ex-Con Brings Cinema to the ‘Badlands’ of Kazakhstan

Under a lowering sky, in front of a makeshift movie screen hastily erected on a Kazakh hillside, a loose-limbed, unkempt young man performs a shambolically graceful version of Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain” for an audience of one rapt viewer.

This scene is Adhilkan Yerzhanov’s “Yellow Cat” in miniature: a film that apes its influences with such infectious, idiosyncratic enthusiasm that it ends up entirely its own, lovely little thing.

The fabulously distinctive Kazakh filmmaker’s most accessible and purely enjoyable film to date is steeped in offbeat cinephilia, ultimately operating as a cock-eyed tribute to Terrence Malick’s “Badlands,” an outlaw-lovers-on-the-run tale that meshes sly genre acumen with sharp social satire to deliver a droll and delightful riff on an age-old story: lovable misfits pursuing untenable dreams in a world hardwired against dreamers.A lonesome figure traipses across the featureless Kazakh steppe.

Even from this distance,

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