France, 1936-37. The Popular Front wins elections, the Spanish Civil War begins, and Hitler and Stalin are manipulating and spying. The brilliant exile, Fiodor Voronin, a general at 20, is ...
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France, 1936-37. The Popular Front wins elections, the Spanish Civil War begins, and Hitler and Stalin are manipulating and spying. The brilliant exile, Fiodor Voronin, a general at 20, is the deputy at the White Russian Military Union, probably slated to replace the aging Général Dobrinsky soon. Fiodor's Greek wife, Arsinoé, paints and stays away from politics, befriending Communist neighbors. Her health declines; the attentive Fiodor arranges care and, against the backdrop of Stalin's Great Purge, considers his options. He plays a chess game in which love of country, love of Arsinoé, ideology, petty jealousies, and the machinations of power roil in matters of life and death.Written by
As I remember it's not conventionally thrilling, but it did hold my attention greatly
It's a good sight to see that Eric Rohmer's latest film- one that I saw on the same day I saw Godard's Notre Musique- is finally released on DVD. Because, frankly, I was a little befuddled why I didn't see it get release in American theaters after it was screened that day I saw it at the NY film festival. It's a curious entry in that it isn't one of Rohmer's typical relationship/'moral' stories, and at the same time is working somewhat against its genre type. Here is a thriller that has that same deep fascination with its psychology and morality of the characters like Hitchcock, while perhaps lacking the wit and excitement of the master. But there are also major political implications in the works here, and the characters know this very well. It's before the times of Melville's Army of Shadows in that there isn't even a resistance against the Germans- just the brewing of something odd &/or rotten amongst the Germans, Russians and Spanish.
I remember quite clearly how much I appreciated and had a good view of these times through the struggles Rohmer painted in this couple of Arsinoe (Katerina Didaskalu) and Fiodor (Serge Renko). It's interesting too to see how Arsinoe is basically apolitical in the early part of the film, and yet through the circumstances that follow both health-wise and elsewhere in the world her views begin to change. At the same time there is a spying sub-plot that is given weight by the attention to the scenes with the characters as opposed to just outright action. There's something that is fond for a movie viewer when seeing such difficult times portrayed simply, but with the conflicts brimming at the seams. It's not only about the political toss-and-turning going on, but about the loss of their insulated relationship, and what ultimately leads to what becomes of them. It's based on a true story as well, which adds some weight to it, and it's also as I recall filmed with the clarity that I've seen in the other (few) Rohmer works I've come across. A worthwhile viewing at the festival, and hopefully will get some airplay on IFC or Sundance or other for fans of the old Cashiers alumni.
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