Father and Son
Time Out says
This precipitous jaunt is typical of the macho sparring between the son, who is on the cusp of manhood, and the father, who, despite being incredibly fit, has retired from the military and will soon face the decline of middle age. Their frequent embraces betray affection and entrapment in equal measure. Although son Alexi, a cadet in training, longs to break free, he is hampered by his puppy-eyed neediness and Oedipal nightmares. So they exercise, play football on the neighbour’s roof and talk about how Alexi looks like his dead mother. Tchaikovsky – he of the vexed relationship with both his fatherland and sexuality – plays through a crackly radio in the background.
A fatherless young man appears to introduce a note of jealousy into the father-son bond. We learn that his own father, also in the military, died in a helicopter crash; while Alexi’s father grieves over the event, a model helicopter dangles in the foreground, barely within the frame. This odd, slightly comic detail is one way in which the film achieves a pictorial, rather than narrative, rhythm.
The cinematography – shafts of ochre light on knick-knacks; damp and distorted dream sequences; outdoor scenes in a misty pink glow – gives the film a rich, sensual shimmer. Sokurov alludes to Christ, Lear and The Prodigal Son, it seems, to replace these tales of sacrifice and punishment with a lush snapshot of fatherly love. More emotional situation than story, the film is a gorgeous, crepuscular dream.
Cast and crew