Alexandra (PG)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Oct 2 2007

Armoured trains, canvas tents, mud, the smell of guns, oil and men: into the Russian army field headquarters in the civil-war zone near Grozny, Chechnya, comes an ailing old woman, Alexandra (Galina Vishnevskaya, right), searching for her soldier grandson (Vasily Shevtsov). Offering the young conscripts meat pies, fixing her grey, plaited hair or poking her nose into the company’s basic latrines, Alexandra cuts an absurd but also a poignant figure – and director Alexander Sokurov observes her with an ex-documentarist’s sense of realism. But, as a director long concerned with the subject of human, spiritual and political oppression, his aims are deeper and his careful depiction of Alexandra’s humanising effect on those she meets is symbolic – most movingly seen in the scenes of the friendship she strikes up with a Chechen woman of her own age.

That the casting of Vishnevskaya – a legendary opera singer – has its own specific emotional impact in Russia is irrelevant: she delivers a touching performance, all the better for its uninflected simplicity. ‘I’m fed up with this military pride!’ she rasps – ‘You can kill. When will you build?’ It’s an approachable film, characterised by a paring down of the more esoteric poetics and psychological enquiries of Sokurov’s earlier work. There’s a hopeful, elegiac, quality to composer Andrei Sigle’s score, and cinematographer Alexander Burov’s images – chiaroscuro at night reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’, the red flare of fire in the sky – are not muted, but grounded in the tense, purgatorial realities of the combatants’ lives. It’s also quietly challenging, in its own way, not least in its portrait of old age, its trials, new freedoms and the privilege of changing one’s mind before it becomes too late.
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Release details

Rated:

PG

UK release:

Fri Sep 26, 2008

Duration:

92 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

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Julia

I found this film extremely poignant and sorrowful. It tells the age old story of age and wisdom versus youth and ignorance, as well as men versus women, builders versus destroyers. When will the world''s leaders understand that life is for living not killing. A film all the more powerful for not hammering home any point but letting the location and landscape speak for themselves.

Dorotheen Strass

Excellently made film and the subject matter wonderfully addressed. I found the film extremely realistic and loved the music. It dealt appropriately with the subject matter and Galina V plays the part so well.

Dorotheen Strass

Excellently made film and the subject matter wonderfully addressed. I found the film extremely realistic and loved the music. It dealt appropriately with the subject matter and Galina V plays the part so well.