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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
As an American gay man, it was impossible for me to watch this film without a great deal of wishful thinking. I'm amused by the discussion (in reviews here and elsewhere) about homo-erotic content. I know why I think it's homo-erotic, but I don't understand why straight people would, straight men especially. On the other hand, I'm guessing the generally stunted nature of male/male interaction in the U.S. will negate the ability of most straight American viewers to see this movie as anything OTHER than sexual. And that's a shame.
I love this movie and not just for the eye candy. It's an exploration of relationships between males as much as it is about fathers and sons, a topic that is generally ignored in films. Unless we're talking about guys shooting or beating each other up. Men can love other men without wanting to boink them. I wish Americans could grasp that concept.
I have the feeling that this film has a back story that makes all of the interaction between the father and son perfectly logical. The point is, I think, that the back story is unnecessary. What is necessary--and fascinating--is to see how this father and son treat each other. The traditional father/son boundaries are in evidence, but their interdependence has blurred the lines. They're protective of each other, and neither one wants to hurt the other. But both realize that hurt is coming, one way or the other.
Dreams are depicted, but the whole film feels like a dream because of the pacing and the way it's photographed. This adds to the initial confusion about what the father/son relationship actually is. To my mind, this is a good thing.
This is one movie that becomes more, uh, plausible, with repeated viewing. Gay men especially should plan to watch this movie at least twice. Trust me, the first time you'll be completely blown away watching these two sexually magnetic men treating each other with affection and respect in a nonsexual way. This is something we rarely get to see, even in gay movies. You'll need to watch it a second time to "get" the movie, and for that you'll need to be aware that their physical intimacy and touchy-feely relationship is a cultural thing, not a gay thing.
I'm a sucker for Russian films, generally, as well as beautifully-photographed films, and films with non-lineal content. Here's one that's got it all, and with a cherry on top: two accomplished and beautiful actors you can't take your eyes off of.
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