June 1946: Stalin invites Russian emigres to return to the motherland. It's a trap: when a ship-load from France arrives in Odessa, only a physician and his family are spared execution or ...
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Two Russian soldiers, one battle-seasoned and the other barely into his boots and uniform, are taken prisoner by an anxious Islamic father from a remote village hoping to trade them for his captured son.
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Wed just as war breaks out, Jeanne hardly gets to know her military husband, Louis, before the debacle of 1940. While waiting for his return from a POW camp, Jeanne journeys through ... See full summary »
June 1946: Stalin invites Russian emigres to return to the motherland. It's a trap: when a ship-load from France arrives in Odessa, only a physician and his family are spared execution or prison. He and his French wife (her passport ripped up) are sent to Kiev. She wants to return to France immediately; he knows that they are captives and must watch every step. By chance, she meets a touring French actress and pleads for help. She also takes a young swimmer under her wing, and several years later, he makes a bold attempt to escape. Meanwhile, the KGB is suspicious, and hope for freedom is dim. Patience, her husband's self control, and her good looks may be their only assets.Written by
When Marie goes to the KGB building in Kiev and Alexei finds her there, persuading her to leave, the viewer can read a sign on the building that says, in Cyrillic letters, "Ministerstvo na..." This is a Bulgarian genitive construction, meaning "The Ministry of..." The only Slavic languages that show the genitive case in this fashion are Bulgarian and Macedonian. The genitive case is marked differently in Russian and Ukrainian, which shows that the "KGB" building could not actually have been in Kiev. This makes sense because the film was partially shot in Bulgaria. See more »
It's hard to criticize a movie which is based on true facts and in which people suffer great injustice. But I wonder if it does justice to the real events and the actual persons. It is overly melodramatic and somehow I felt it insulted my intelligence. When I am supposed to be outraged about something I would like to have a solid reason.
Perhaps the biggest flaw is the complete absence of motive. Why does a Russian French couple with a small son move from France to the Soviet Union in 1946? Idealism, patriotism, homesickness, love of Communism? And what exactly did they expect? They must have known that at that time almost every town in the Western Soviet Union was practically razed to the ground by the Germans. Entire cities along the river Dnepr were rebuilt practically from zero. So, seeing the family move into a shared flat in a comfortable apartment bloc in an intact neighborhood in the center of Kiev makes them come through as comparatively privileged and well embedded into the system. What else, what better could have happened to them?
It did not help either that the main character, the French woman, comes through as a self centered, bitchy, constantly nagging chauvinist, played by Sandrine Bonnaire, France's answer to Jessica Lange. There is not much there to like in her, and her air of superiority is pretty hard to bear. At home we speak French", she on one occasion admonishes her son in an angry tone of voice, straining to make him understand their special situation, their being different, transferring her very private concerns to her son. It is not entirely surprising that her husband turns to another women after a while.
Probably the story closest to this one is not without my daughter", which I have not read or seen on the screen. So maybe this is more a movie about a clash of cultures and less about historical realities.
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