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.
Victor Sluzhkin signs on as a teacher of geography in a secondary school in his native Perm (in the Urals) and gets lost in a haze of hard vodka, desperate love for a nymphet-like student ... See full summary »
Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce.... See full summary »
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
Andrey Smirnov was director Andrey Zvyagintsev's only choice to play Vladimir. Zvyagintsev usually doesn't let his actors read the script before filming but he gave it to Smirnov when he offered him the role. At first Smirnov, himself a director, had no intention to act in the film and warned Zvyagintsev during the casting that he couldn't interrupt the editing process of Zhila-byla odna baba (2011), his first film in over 30 years. Zvyagintsev came to Smirnov's place about a month after the casting in order to try to persuade him to star and Smirnov said it was out of the question as he was too busy editing his film, but his wife and son, who were at home too, lashed out at Smirnov, saying he couldn't refuse an offer from a director like Zvyagintsev. The latter promised to adjust the filming schedule for Smirnov. In the end, Smirnov filmed his role when he had days off in April 2010 and managed to devote two weeks to filming in May. See more »
The beautiful camera-work is not enough to redeem this utterly banal and empty story. The underlying message raises the old question of utilitarianism: is the happiness of the many more important than the wealth of a few? This is as deep as it gets and disappointment awaits at the end - is that all?
The main character's motivations are not entirely convincing. The only interesting character is the rich man's rebellious daughter. The rest are pawns in a mundane play full of tediously and pointlessly protracted scenes of everyday life.
Philip Glass returns with his equally banal and repetitive music, a five-minute repetition of one short motif.
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