St. Petersburg, mid 19th century: the indolent, middle-aged Oblomov lives in a flat with his older servant, Zakhar. He sleeps much of the day, dreaming of his childhood on his parents' ...
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St. Petersburg, mid 19th century: the indolent, middle-aged Oblomov lives in a flat with his older servant, Zakhar. He sleeps much of the day, dreaming of his childhood on his parents' estate. His boyhood companion, Stoltz, now an energetic and successful businessman, adds Oblomov to his circle whenever he's in the city, and Oblomov's life changes when Stoltz introduces him to Olga, lovely and cultured. When Stoltz leaves for several months, Oblomov takes a country house near Olga's, and she determines to change him: to turn him into a man of society, action, and culture. Soon, Olga and Oblomov are in love; but where, in the triangle, does that leave Stoltz? Written by
This story of a 19th-century Russian land owner (Oblomov) begins slowly, with scenes that puzzle and seem almost contradictory. The beginning denies you any emotional involvement, but as the film progresses you're dragged into Oblomov's psyche.
Early on there's a scene where two young boys are spinning themselves around in the seat of a swing to get dizzy. That's almost the sensation you get as you find yourself completely immersed in Oblomov's world. Not that you're reeling or disoriented, but that everything else becomes shut out.
The film moves along at a genteel pace, and, in that unique Russian way, when emotions burst through the societal veneer, you're completely clobbered. It's like someone sneaking up from behind and conking you on the head. The human condition being what it is, it's impossible not to identify with Oblomov. For anyone who has ever deliberated, doubted, or procrastinated--in other words, everyone--this film provides layers and layers of meaning, gently filtered through a portrait of Russian gentry.
To my surprise, I find myself wanting to call this a great film. It seems an improbable tag for such a slender story. But the crafting of the film is absolutely top tier: acting, cinematography, pacing--everything, really. Put that together with the haunting subtext, and you get a film well worth seeing.
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