The film, described by one source as a 'Jewish Satyricon', is a heavily stylized, almost theatrical re-staging of (supposedly) the biblical story of David and Absalom, set among an artsy-fartsy facsimile of Jewish gangsters in pre-Revolution Odessa. Some audiences might find it visually arresting, but no amount of virtuoso camera-work can disguise the incredibly sloppy post-dubbed soundtrack and inflated sense of merit. The film would like to be the latest thing in Soviet self-expression (circa 1990), but it's more a throwback to those pre-Glasnost days when clever filmmakers tried to circumvent the censors by camouflaging their ideas behind a smokescreen of pretentious obliquity and heavy-handed symbolism. The result can be a chore to watch for anyone not a native Russian, and with a 90-minute running time is easily an hour too long.
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