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|2 reviews in total|
"Pu-239", or "The Half Life of Timofey Berezin" is a film set in post cold war Russia. A land ruled by competing Russian Mafia factions and run by aging, failing nuclear power plants. Timofey Berezin, a nuclear power plant technician finds himself exposed to an excessive amount of radiation caused from a near failure at the plant he works at. Eventually he learns that his company has lied to him about the extent of the exposure and he only has a matter of days to live before being overcome from radiation sickness and poisoning. His one mission is to secure a safe and healthy future for his wife and son that he will be leaving behind. His solution, steal a small amount of weapons grade plutonium (Pu-239) with the intent to sell it on the black market in Moscow, and give the money to his family. Timofey is played by actor Paddy Considine, most recently known for his role as the reporter Simon Ross in "The Bourne Ultimatum". Considine's portrayal of Timofey has similarities to that of Simon Ross. However, where Ross seemed to be the naive innocent victim of circumstances way beyond his expectations, he plays Timofey as a humble innocent man trying to serve his duty to his country, people and family, yet when faced with a horrific situation, he meets it head on with unswerving determination and resolve. The humanity and innocence mixed with cold steely tenacity that Considine brings to this character is haunting and brilliant. A truly beautiful and powerful performance. Timofey's wife, Marina is played by Radha Mitchell, an actress I have always found to have tremendous depth and power. Though many of her roles in the past seem to me to be beneath her potential (i.e. "Pitch Black", "Silent Hill") she always seems to shine through with grit and an immense presence. Pu-239 is no exception to this. Though the role is fairly minor, her abilities make it shine out bright and true in this film. Also featured prominently is the character of Shiv, played by relative newcomer Oscar Isaac. Though initially, Shiv's character seems like an obvious comic relief spot in what is otherwise a haunting and depressing world we eventually see a much greater depth to him. On the surface he seems like a two bit punk playing at being a big time Russian gangster. Yet we see in numerous instances a much more troubled and torn soul. Shiv is a man forced into his role of hustler/strongman who seems to be yearning to understand how to be a strong provider for his son and girlfriend. Though he does everything he can to hide this emotional "weakness" from those around him we see it time and time again play out in his desperation and hope for a life beyond what he has found. The clash of Shiv and Timofey's characters is a profound one. One is a man that has become an educated yet unappreciated (and eventually abandoned) scientist, who has given his life for his loved ones. The other, a criminal dealing in extortion and prostitution, desperately trying to save his hopeless life. Yet when sitting side by side, one can't ignore the similarities between them. Both in hopeless struggles for their own lives, and both yearning to provide something better for those they care for. Two starkly different paths, converged to a single moment and place in time. The shining star in this film though, are the poetic monologues placed throughout. Read by Considine, these profound thoughts on a nuclear world, a world where utter annihilation rests in a silent, invisible force that "rewrites your very DNA", resonate in an eerie, forbidding and ominous tone. They flow through this film so subtly you almost miss the power and potency of them until, like aftershocks, their ghostly beauty crashes upon the listeners consciousness. First time director, Scott Burns (co-writer of "The Bourne Ultimatum") artistically contrasts, in both music and color, the bleak hopeless life of Timofey with the flashy, colorful, yet hollow and meaningless life of Shiv. Beautiful imagery, awe inspiring monologues, and powerfully acted characters fill the screen of "Pu-239". For a team of relative newcomers, "Pu-239" is a triumphant success.
This was a total and utter waste of time. It is one of the most boring movies I've ever seen. I spent the entire film waiting for something interesting or meaningful to happen, and it never delivers. With a cast consisting of Jennifer Connelly, Pete Postlethwaite, John C. Reilly, and Tim Roth, not to mention the now world-renowned writer Koji Suzuki, and don't see how they missed. But they sure did miss. The entire theatre seemed to just laugh at the silliness of this film. I've never walked out of a movie before, but I seriously considered walking out on this one. It just never made me care. But I stuck it out to the bitter, boring and uneventful end, and regretted every minute wasted. To be honest, this film is not so bad as it is boring. I've seen far worse films that were more entertaining. I was superbly disappointed.