Time Out says
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.
Cast and crew