Feb 08, 2010|
(Russia) This sophomore arthouse film from breakout director Andrey Zvyagintsevthe, whose debut movie The Return received international acclaim, is one that stretches the patience of even the most ardent art house movie lover. It is so arduously slow-paced that each shot feels a minute too long, but you’ll be rewarded for sitting through it.
In an unnamed time and place, a young family—Alex (Konstantin Lavronenko), Vera (Maria Bonnevie) and their two children—move into an old bungalow in the tranquil countryside, only to have the peace shattered when Vera delivers a piece of shocking news to her husband—that she is pregnant, and the baby is not his. What follows is a tragic unfolding of events that is so masterfully drawn out by Zvyagintsev that the limp plot is almost entirely forgivable. The dialogue, or what little there is of it, is at times irritatingly vague, but paired with the sprawling shots of the barren urban wastelands and the hauntingly beautiful countryside, it becomes an evocative piece of work that spells out the darkest curses of the human existence—of hurt, error, loneliness and regret. Zvyagintsev, in keeping the audience at an appropriate distance from his characters, forces us to tap into their emotions by reading in between the lines, the silhouettes of the characters, and the empty quietness that punctuates much of the film.
Just when you think you can’t take a second more of the searingly slow pace, it reaches a silent crescendo that grabs you by the throat—and then, the dark clouds pass and life goes on again, much like how it is in our real world.