The Banishment

Film
2 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(12user reviews)
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Not even breathtaking photography and a remarkably precise and poetic approach to mise-en-scène can save Andrey Zvyagintsev’s marathon follow-up to his 2003 Golden Lion-winning ‘The Return’ from being a frustrating, oblique and portentous endurance test. A slow-burning story of a couple who move with their kids to the countryside (Russia, we assume, although it’s shot largely in Moldova) only for marital infidelity and its attendant crises to emerge early on, ‘The Banishment’ offers all too few moments of real and engaging emotional intensity.

The elements are all in place – superb acting (lead actor Konstantin Lavronenko won the best actor prize at Cannes in 2007), masterly camerawork, an ethereal score, ghostly locations – but the problem is that the story never really connects. Still, there are many scenes to enjoy as Zvyagintsev demonstrates an obvious debt to Tarkovsky in the movement of his camera and his desire to stress the thematic over the narrative. But however admirable the film’s sense of an enveloping nightmare may be, it’s impossible not to be put off by a story that’s increasingly confusing and, ultimately, psychologically incomprehensible.

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
12A
Release date:
Friday August 15 2008
Duration:
150 mins

Cast and crew

Screenwriter:
Artyom Melkumian
Cast:
Konstantin Lavronenko
Maria Bonnevie
Alexander Baluev
Maxin Shibaev