In what might be termed Russo-Shakespearean noir, a ruthless woman's adulterous affair with a drifter sets in motion a chain-reaction of murder and deception in a remote village in 19th Century Mtsensk.
I am skeptical of filmed opera. Its simply because I am training myself to appreciate cinematic effect. It seems that some training is required and you need to put about as much into watching as the artists did in filming. Opera is a whole different beast, musically oriented, requiring altogether different work and expertise. Filmed opera is pictures attached to music only. It must be very hard to find an expression that has both richnesses. Some of "Tales of Hoffman" worked for me.
This does as well, pretty much for the whole thing. Its because the music and the film were made separately, by altogether different artists; each one competent. Virtually nothing in the cinematic side of this is overly clever or obvious. But it holds its own because so much of the story is not in the libretto.
The structural problem with opera is that the action on stage, regardless of how lush and exaggerated, is that it is never connected to the power of the music in any way other than by association. Film, when done well, does integrated the emotional and narrative powers of vision and sound in an intimate way, so there is an inherent advantage to this project.
The visuals revolves around the power of the actress who plays a character more like Lady Chatterly than Lady MacBeth. It is important that she (the character) be obvious to what is around her, so its okay that the actress is as well. She seems to have been chosen because she has huge breasts (being a former Eastern European Playmate), is fine playing nude and in aggressive sex scenes (ditto), and is redheaded.
This latter is no small deal, and in this case is used to make her face show better with the darkish, dramatic lighting that is used to remind us that this is serious-classical-music. Well, it is, though not as complex as say, his piano preludes and fugues.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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