In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.
Somewhere in Northern Russia in a small Russian Orthodox monastery lives an unusual man whose bizarre conduct confuses his fellow monks, while others who visit the island believe that the man has the power to heal, exorcise demons and foretell the future.
The film required a larger budget than it may seem because the filmmakers wanted "Izgnanie" to be "out of time and place" and did their best so the audience would not guess where and when the film took place. Even car plates and signboards were designed specially for the film. The props were bought in Germany, the "town" part of the film was shot in Belgium and northern France, and the "country" part was shot in Moldova. See more »
From the outside, characters are clearly sophisticated enough and it is curious why connection never gets there.
A respectable family drama with its style and lethargic editing its main drawback, "Izgnanie" will also definitely test the patient, even Andrei Zvyagintsev's most loyal of fans. Insecurity over the plot is palpable as film overextends its welcome with pondering and introspective filming that doesn't quite translate well on screen. Plot and cinematography, especially in the countryside, offer some solace to art house fans, however audience will wonder why it took too long to make the point.
Film follows a middle class family as they go to the pastoral countryside, presumably where the paternal character, Alex (Konstantin Lavronenko) grew up. Plot only advances approximately an hour in the picture as a reveal is introduced. Character and story development is sporadic, definitely welcome, as it reminds audience that they aren't watching paint dry. The final act in the film, a flashback, carries the meatier part of the movie as it emphasizes the tragedy that happens earlier. Adultery, abortion and family secrets are aplenty, however seen and are better executed before.
Best actor nod for Konstantin Lavronenko at Cannes 2007 is somewhat deserving. It is indeed a subtle performance, however doesn't hold a candle to other actors vying for the same gong.
With an abundance of establishing shots and transport moving in and out of frame, the film could have easily eliminated 30 minutes of its 2 and a half-hour running time. Anna Mass, the editor, has puzzled together a film that wallows in atmosphere and creates images that are borderline pseudo-cathartic. Such scenes include a 3-minute trailing shot of water flowing from a water source that stopped delivering hydration before. May have functioned as time change and indication of liminal moment, but overly indulgent nonetheless, as it feels that it's delivered as art for art's sake.
Adapted from a novel by William Saroyan, it is clear that translation is also a problem. With the production of the film being abject to the characters, audience is clearly not allowed into these personalities, only as observers. This abjectivity produces lack of engagement that a plot like this could easily flourish on. From the outside, characters are clearly sophisticated enough and it is curious why connection never gets there.
English title is marketed as "The Banishment" as it may signify a plethora of themes and undertones in the movie. It straight up refers to the family's eviction from their 'idealised' Eden in a midtown neighborhood (although clearly far from it as it is depicted as violent and drab), but also refers to the individual isolation of the characters from one another. They are all devoid of communication or any sort of outward emotional connection, except for hate, contempt and the chains of nuclear family. Film becomes a burning effigy to families that are only bonded because they have to.
What could have been a beautifully insightful movie on the danger of disregard of family bonds, film overachieves in being meditative to a fault: dragging its run time to way beyond its limits, diluting its intended purpose. The patient will find satisfaction but will still notice the film's over the top brooding by overstuffing it with non-consequential establishing shots, pretending to be worth more than it is.
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