I saw this at a festival years ago and it stands as perhaps the paradigmatic Difficult Festival Experience--you suffer because it seems like it might be good for you. I had heard good reports from Cannes and knew that this would probably be my one chance to catch the film, so I went with it with a few friends who were even more in the dark about this than I was, although who were game to see anything that might be potentially good. My own feelings about how confounding and unpleasant the movie may have been were certainly colored in part by my feeling responsible for their enjoyment; I dragged them to this.
Things looked promising in the opening two or three minutes. The b&w photography was gorgeous and sinuous. The cold chill of the Russian winter oozes from the screen. But as soon talk and action began I was instantly, laughably lost. Occasionally my friends and I shot looks of eye-rolling befuddlement to each other; we were being taxed as never before, and unfortunately none of us had a Ph.D. in Russian history or film to serve as an anchor. To say that I had no idea what was going on, where we were or how the characters were related, is an understatement. This movie makes "The Master and Margarita" seem like "The Catcher in the Rye." I can't really make a judgment on the film other than that I felt the other comments here seem too weighted toward people who obviously came to the movie with a lot more history and background than I did. If I had come to the film with that critical apparatus, I probably would have appreciated it much, much more. I don't doubt that those comments are valid, but I did want to put a warning in there that this was a supremely Difficult film even for a fairly adventurous moviegoer. I can't really think of any other film I've ever seen that stumped and mystified me so fully yet so clearly had some structure and apparatus to it. It would probably take 500 pages of text for someone to explain in detail what's happening here, a further investment I wouldn't want to make.
12 of 33 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this