Russia, 1936: revolutionary hero Colonel Kotov is spending an idyllic summer in his village with his young wife and six-year-old daughter Nadia and other assorted family and friends. Things...
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Russia, 1936: revolutionary hero Colonel Kotov is spending an idyllic summer in his village with his young wife and six-year-old daughter Nadia and other assorted family and friends. Things change dramatically with the unheralded arrival of Cousin Dmitri from Moscow, who charms the women and little Nadia with his games and pianistic bravura. But Kotov isn't fooled: this is the time of Stalin's repression, with telephone calls in the middle of the night spelling doom - and he knows that Dmitri isn't paying a social call...Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
A beautiful film. It amazingly combines the gentle, romantic tragi-comedy of Chekhov or Turgenev with one of the most effective exposes seen on screen of the corruption and underlying evil of the Stalinist era - the film takes place at the height of the Stalinist purges.
Each of the complex characters is portrayed in detail and with affection by director Mikhalkov. The Red Army hero, Kotov, starts the film as a braggart, chasing away Soviet tanks from his local village. We then see him as a loving husband and a devoted father, living a pre-revolutionary rustic life in his dacha. But further less appealing character facets emerge as the film develops. His wife, her family and their six-year old daughter Nadia (a triumphant performance) reveal their hopes and fears, and come over as a very real family, with foibles and a past which shapes their present. The intrusion of Dmitri after ten years away at first adds to this rural idyll, until the dark truth slowly is revealed - although the opening sequence, when he is seen playing Russian roulette, hints that all is not as well as the glowing landscapes and happy peasants might imply.
The end is shocking, but at the same time almost comic, as Stalin and Stalinism intrude brutally into the peaceful countryside. But there is a sense of completion and of a tale well told as the final credits indicate the fate of the main characters. Mikhalkov is a master story-teller, and this is one of the great films of the 1990s, and a Russian masterpiece.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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