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Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late in life and each one has children from previous marriages. Elena's son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and he is constantly asking Elena for money. Vladimir's daughter is a careless young woman who has a distant relationship with her father. A heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. A brief but somehow tender reunion with his daughter leads him to make an important decision: she will be the only heiress of his wealth. Back home he announces it to Elena. Her hopes to financially help her son suddenly vanish. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life. Written by
Cannes Film Festival
The film was originally planned to be made in English, with Elena, Vladimir and Sergey called Helen, Richard and Dan, respectively. Andrey Zvyagintsev dropped the idea when he realized working with an English producer meant "overcoming the issues of the creative method, of the language of cinema." Soon he proposed the script to Alexander Rodnyansky and the next day after Rodnyansky read it, he phoned Zvyagintsev and said, "Let's start." Zvyagintsev thanked Rodnyansky in a later interview for sharing his views. See more »
This is the sort of movie that will do well at film festivals and with certain critics but for me it's all a bit too familiar, though there is simply no denying that this still remains a very well made movie.
Kind of funny but while watching this movie it kept reminding me of a different Russian movie that I had seen; "Vozvrashchenie". I only found out later that the movie indeed had been directed by the same director; Andrei Zvyagintsev. So he obviously is a person with a very strong and distinctive style but yet I wasn't as intrigued with this movie as I was was with "Vozvrashchenie".
It's a movie that shows how one event can change everything in a family. That is good all but it's not exactly something that has never been done in any movie before. I did wish that the movie would had done some more interesting stuff at times with its story and characters but it instead makes the choice to be a simplistic and straightforward as possible, which adds to the realism perhaps but not to the originality and it doesn't make this the most interesting or effective genre example either.
The movie definitely takes the time to setup things but it feels a bit pointless at times. Really, the movie too often is showing you absolutely nothing and some sequences are needlessly long. The movie wants you to fill in things for yourself mostly and doesn't just lay out everything. It's the reason why the movie also often has no dialog at all in it. The first part and the final part of the movie is like this. It seemed like things were developing- and starting to get interesting in the middle but it doesn't ever push through.
Still I can't be very negative toward this movie. It's obviously a superior made movie, that is beautiful looking as well, with its cinematography, that helps to set up a nice mood for the movie. Also nothing wrong with its storytelling. I mean, it does what it does well, even though it just isn't my cup of tea and it really isn't the best, most original, or intriguing example of the genre that I have ever seen. It's great to watch still, if you are into these type of movies.
A really good movie, you can still real easily do without though and is hardly the best that the genre currently has to offer.
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