Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Banishment (2007, Russia, Andrei Zvyagintsev)

Zvyagintsev's 'The Return' (2003) was one of the finest films of this decade to date, a fable infused with religious imagery and allegory about a returning father bonding with his two sons, with tragic consequences. The director follows this with another fable with grand themes and impending tragedy at every turn. Whilst on holiday in the countryside, Alex is told by his wife, Vera, that she is expecting a child and that it is not his. Zvyagintsev then considers Alex's reactions and moral dilemmas to this discovery and the tragic consequences of his subsequent actions.

Konstantin Lavronenko, so powerful in 'The Return', picked up the Best Actor award at Cannes for his performance as Alex, a man devoted to his family whose motives become desperate and selfish upon hearing the bombshell his wife has dropped. The performances generally are as good as you'd expect, but 'The Banishment' remains
a flawed but intriguing film which perhaps suffers from trying to over complicate the plot in order to resolve loose ends, which also results in a running time which is longer than necessary. I'm never the kind if viewer who wants films to be neatly tied up of course, but Zvyagintsev creates a 150 minute epic from this material, with numerous instances where you think he could, and should, end the film, but fails to. A more concise film would have been more rewarding, but providing you have the patience to persevere with it, it still has it's definite merits. 'The Banishment' is very much in the Tarkovsky style, which some may find 'difficult', but even though it's uneven for much of the time, it's never any less than intriguing. 3.5/5

1 comment:

Barbara said...

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