TV Review: 'Locust' (2014)

Locust Sarancha Lera Paulina Andreeva Artyom Pyotr Fyodorov
When it comes to romance -- love, lust, and infatuation are easy to confuse and as “Locust” points out, telling the difference can be a torment on the senses. Throughout history, there has been no other love story held more sacred than the one belonging to star-crossed lovers. The beleaguered couple that attempts to withstand the gravitational pull, tearing them apart has always been held in high regard by those who present them.

Most writers of romance want you to root for them. No. Demand that you root for them. Not because they always earn it, but due to a purely emotional plea that's logic is relatively simple. Because they are told “no,” we should want to say “yes.”

In “Locust” (originally titled, “Sarancha”) one such love affair unfolds. Lera (Paulina Andreeva) is the twenty-something daughter of a wealthy family, whose financial security rests on her marrying her father’s closely-aged friend and business ally. As an only child, Lera becomes aware of the fate that is both awaiting and relying on her.
So when fellow twenty-something Artyom (Pyotr Fyodorov), a contractor/aspiring poet/professional daydreamer arrives to do work around her parents’ summer home, their connection quickly turns everything on its head. Lera’s mother, wanting to grant her daughter this one-off romantic excursion before she marries, persuades her husband to endure what she believes will be a short-term fling.

Unfortunately for them, Artyom and Lera’s relationship does everything except fizzle. Despite this, Lera returns home with her parents, and after some time apart, Artyom decides to travel to the city so they can resume their relationship. At the end of Episode 1, viewers learn that this decision will have toxic consequences for everyone involved.

“Locust” masterfully exposes how much viewers have been conditioned to root for star-crossed couples, by viewing them as the victims of a cruel universe rather than the willful architects of their own fate. Because of this, it is more difficult to see the real story "Locust" is unraveling before our eyes.

[Image by Sreda Entertainment]
Presented on Netflix as a four-part miniseries, “Locust” provocatively covers an angle to all-consuming love affairs, that is rarely (if ever), explored. The series moves at a swift and thorough clip, building up to what we know will end in some sort of catastrophe. The question is for who? 
The first two-hours of each half play with decisive cohesion. The second half’s visual tone shifting to reflect the darker days to come. Egor Baranov directs the miniseries in a commanding tone that never loses focus. Every scene serves a distinct purpose, and the cast's performances provide them with a strong spine.

Paulina Andreeva is compelling as the conflicted Lera, conveying the character's ensuing rollercoaster ride of emotions with ample depth. Her co-star, the versatile Pyotr Fyodorov, gives a wide-ranging performance as the inscrutable Artyom. It is a portrayal that is made all the more impressive when you consider Fyodorov's contrasting turn in “The Duelist.”

One of the most crucial aspects of "Locust" rests with believing in the legitimacy of the romance between the central lovers, and Fyodorov and Andreeva forge the right amount of screen chemistry to lend tremendous credibility to Artyom and Lera's desperate bid to be together.

As a story, “Locust” circumvents convention by acknowledging there may be more to the archetypes so often hailed as heroes. This daring take on what could have otherwise been a “Romeo and Juliet” story gives the series a dark edge that cuts deeper than most of its kind.

“Locust” takes on several forms throughout its four hours. It is a romantic drama, psychological thriller, and contemplative narrative on love and lust. It does not spread itself thin trying to cover unnecessary supporting characters. It knows the story it’s trying to tell, and it does not get distracted while pursuing it.

One of the series’ finest accomplishments is in the ever-evolving emotions it takes viewers through as it investigates its protagonists. Because of this and other factors, “Locust” is a series that will plague your mind.

Rating: 8/10

“Locust” is currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix.

[Featured Image by Sreda Entertainment]