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Father (Andrej Shetinin) and Son (Alexei Nejmyshev) live together in a rooftop apartment. They have lived alone for years in their own private world, full of memories and daily rituals. Sometimes they seem like brothers. Sometimes even like lovers. Following in his father's footsteps, Alexei attends military school. He likes sports, tends to be irresponsible and has problems with his girlfriend. She is jealous of Alexei's close relationship with his father. Despite knowing that all sons must one day live their own lives, Alexei is conflicted. Alexei's father knows he should maybe accept a better job in another city, maybe search for a new wife. But who will ease the pain of Alexei's nightmares? Written by
For art-house viewers only - but intriguing and rather beautiful despite its slow pace
The second film in the trilogy director Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark) began with Mother and Son (1996) focuses on the obsessive, intimate love between a youthful father and his teenage son. They play sport and tousle together, confide in and are everything to each other but now the son is close to adulthood, it's time to separate.
Apparently Sokurov intended to show that the ambivalence of their lover-like relationship is due to the father's unresolved feelings for his dead wife, but the film is not entirely successful in communicating that. Their closeness inspires jealousy in the son's girlfriend, a neighbour and a visitor, yet the homo eroticism in Father and Son is not just between them, but in the way the camera views other men, particularly soldiers. Although this allegedly unintentional subtext could offend, it does not, due to the hyper-real, mythic tone. The slow pace of the film is offset by a pervasive, abstract sensuality, emphasised by Alexander Burov's beautiful cinematography. Whispering kettles and dripping taps form an industrial ambiance that helps to slow time down and frame the background a dark quiet house that is as insular as this familial relationship.
Although Father and Son will frustrate those seeking a more plot-driven film, it is memorable. The indefinable closeness between the two men is never threatening. It merely emphasises the similarity between what philosopher CS Lewis described as the Four Loves storage (familial love), love between friends (philia), eros (sexual love) and agape (spiritual love).
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