The wind buffets and howls, sand and dust whips into your face, animals die for no known reason: life is hard for nomads on the Kazakh steppe. Asa, back from serving in the Russian navy, finds it grim. He wants to get married and run his own herd; he wants to make his own life. But he’s living with his sister’s family and his sour brother-in-law thinks he’s a complete jerk.
Tulpan is the daughter of the only nearby family and Asa thinks he’s in love with her. Sadly for him, she doesn’t fancy Asa, whose ears, she says, are too big. What’s a young man to do? No wife, no herd: the life is too hard for a solitary herder. How long can Asa keep trying with Tulpan, and put up with his brother-in-law? Or should he leave the steppe altogether, with Boni, an idiotic, sex-obsessed pal?
It’s a fun film, but never idealizes life inside or outside the family yurt – the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of a sticky new-born lamb, for example, is eye-popping.