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maxi-18

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12 (2007)
45 out of 80 people found the following review useful:
Jury plays god to a man, Mikhalkov plays god to a jury, 12 December 2007

The movie is bipolar. The upsides: great performances by many great actors; a view that the movie provides into the minds of contemporary Russians; and watching 12 post-post-Soviet (yet born and raised Soviet) people engaged in the a very Western activity, where their universal human feelings are intermixed with ways of thinking and arguing that are skewed by the history and problems of Russian society. Having characters give monologues in a single-room setting works very well for the theatrically-trained actors. Also, the discussion of society's problems and human responsibilities is refreshingly serious, in a big contrast to most post-Soviet expression, which tends to be extremely cynical (as argued quiet well by Efremov's character).

Downsides: certain characters are shallow caricatures clearly used to express Mikhalkov's personal tastes; way too many stretches in the plot; and the ending/punchline. Mikhalkov turns everything on its head in the end, very unconvincingly trying to argue that "freedom is slavery" and negating any civic benefit that the movie could have. This argument is basically a restatement of his political goals, most recently expressed off-screen by an open letter to Putin in the name of "all Russian artists" begging him to stay another term. Ironically, the argument is presented so weakly and crudely that Mikhalkov ends up shooting himself in a foot.