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Valeriya Gay Germanika
I'm glad I'm not the only one who was turned off by the acting/directing style. I'm a native Russian speaker from Moscow, and I've seen enough Soviet/Russian movies to expect them to stray from Hollywood conventions. But whereas many Russian films push the envelope in artistry and expression, this one just sucked.
For one, the overacting was painful to watch. Not only do no Russians act that way, I don't think that any humans act that way. It actually made me think that what I was seeing on the DVD was the unedited raw reel. People would repeat their lines over and over for no apparent reason, as if doing multiple takes - except that we get to see all of it. Some of the actors themselves are old pros, and so I figured that this was done intentionally, for the effect so to speak. The lines were delivered in most unnatural tones, as if they were reading them for the first time, and didn't know where to put the accents and pauses in a sentence. But what effect this could possibly be producing, other than making me want to turn the movie off several times is not clear. And speaking of the lines, they often sound clumsy, like a direct translation to Russian from another language, or like somebody trying to make up how people would talk without ever observing them.
Also, I found the sound to be very strange. It seemed like every piece of speech was dubbed - recorded separately from the video footage and then mixed together. The voices didn't move with the actors, and their facial expressions didn't always seem to match the volume or expression of the text. It basically sounded like listening to a radio broadcast - everybody sitting nice and close to the microphone, but no dynamics or liveliness to the speech. Again, this had to have been done intentionally, but I can only fathom for what purpose.
With this in mind, my favorite scene was the silent stretch of Andrei fetching water for the bath. It was the most serene, least annoying part of the movie.
The actual plot of the script is interesting, and is really the only thing that kept me from turning this off. The script presents opportunities one after another, and the movie fails to make anything of them time and again. Despite the initially intriguing plot, I'd still say this is not worth watching.
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