Thursday, November 15, 2007

Izgnanie (The Banishment)

Thanks to a dearest friend I had the unbelievably opportunity to see this amazing movie and have to say that definitively I was mesmerized with the second feature film from Andrei Zvyagintsev.

Have to say that this film is exactly the type of art cinema that I enjoy the most as it blends a good story, outstanding cinematography, slow pace that allows you to see and feel everything, superb framing and composition, outstanding performances, and a great director and storyteller that magnificently orchestrates all cinema techniques and delivers an incredibly amazing masterpiece. I definitively prefer films that stimulate viewer’s emotions and here I was feeling everything.

I’ll stop the praise of this movie and tell you about what is about. Like in The Return it tells a story about a family; this time the main character is the father. He takes his family from the city to the countryside, to his birthplace, his father’s old house. One could think that the story will develop into the adaptation process from a dark and somber industrial city to the most breathtaking empty rolling hills and fertile land. But no, it doesn’t go this way, it becomes one of the most interesting human drama revolving around what it is not said, about those things that you keep to yourself in a relationship and how destructive this equivocal silence does always become.

Starring Konstantin Lavronenko as Alex the father (he was also the father in The Return) with an amazing performance that won him the Best Actor award in 2007 Cannes, you cannot miss him taking you into his character emotions, it is just incredibly amazing. Also here we find Swedish Maria Bonnevie playing Eva the tormented wife that cannot show her emotions and when at almost the end she’s allowed to do so, you’ll be devastated.

But since the very first scene with a long shot and fabulous framing the movie will take into a marvelous voyage of outdoor and indoor images that will drive you totally mad. Once scene was absolutely magic for me, when Alex runs into the forest, you see the trees and for a few seconds the camera stops in one tree and you are able to see every detail in that tree, including two small snails! That’s the kind of details you’re able to see in this film. Magical! Then we have the use of light, truly hypnotizing; as the story develops the house indoor takes become darker and darker, things (not people) shadows start to appear until walls are erased by darkness. Outstanding!

I could go on and on praising this movie, but have to stop to share some key data I found. Guess which movie is one of Zvyaguintsev’s favorite? Well these are his words: "The Sacrifice is my favorite film. People often ask me if Tarkovsky was an influence on my filmmaking. If his films did have any influence on me, it was not in a conscious way. I also like Antonioni". Obviously this helps me understand why I’m so captivated by his filmmaking.

Perhaps these comments will also help you to understand more about his filmmaking style: “Andrei Zvyagintsev on the film's relationship to reality: ‘In filmmaking, reality is so present that it is difficult to be detached from it. But you have to succeed in doing so to reach another, higher level of reality. When you are directing a film, you have to create a world, and make the invisible visible, which is an exceedingly complex task’.

Andrei Zvyagintsev on the contrast between the film's formal beauty and its dark subject: "This contrast doesn't trouble me at all. Above all, the film is a recreated reality, almost dreamlike. For me, a dream has to be beautiful, whole, and harmonious’.”

The movie was received with controversial critic’s reviews, some praise it and some dismiss it. So, chances are that when you’re able to see it you’ll either love it like me or will feel unimpressed like others. Still, the movie was an Official Selection in the 2007 Cannes and has already won 2 awards.

In my humble opinion this is a must be seen movie, but I know that is not for all audiences, you have to like serious cinema to be able to enjoy this masterpiece.

Big Enjoy!!!

P.S.: Now I'm very confussed. Even if my real name is Russian, I can hardly understand Russian beyond some basic words; so, I do not know how to spell his last name: Zviagintsev or Zvyaginstev. The only thing I'm sure is that is: Андрей Петрович Звягинцев! I really hate when this happens, as with a Russian name I know what you feel when your name is always misspelled.

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