Though its focus remains tight on its main subject — a Russian single mother of nine — Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov’s award-winning film has the scope, precision and resonance of a literary masterpiece. The cinematography is startling, with bleached colors that reflect the washed-out dreams of its subjects. Though shot largely with handheld cameras, its compositions would do Cartier-Bresson proud. The film’s blend of long takes and jump cuts give it the feel of an epic. And the characters and their stories are richer than fiction, as they celebrate, fight, grieve and survive. But The Mother is more than the sum of these magnificent parts, thanks to the richness and complexity of the themes it explores: the daily violence absorbed by women and children, the impossible traps of modern masculinity, the generations-long impact of addiction, the innocence of first love. Taking the long-form documentary to new heights, Cattin and Kostomarov have crafted an urgent classic of 21st-century cinema.