Wednesday, September 17, 2008

DAY WATCH (Timur Bekmambetov, 2006, Russia) Anton is torn apart by regret: his son lost to the Dark Others and he’s discarded by his true love Svetlana, though each will confront the other to decide the fate of the world. “You always hurt the one you love”…I’m sure Anton wishes people would stop loving him so much. DAY WATCH steps out of the gloom and shines with an absurd and surprising humor, taking itself just seriously enough to be coherent yet focusing on the characters and their human complexities. Special effects aside, this is a film that is structured around Anton’s shame, the guilt he carries that has led him to lose his son. In the last twelve years, he has become a failure as a person, he is not complete, and he is not in control over his own life. But he does hold the destiny of the entire world in the chalky palm of his hand. Anton begins the film by committing a theft so his son won’t be prosecuted for breaking the truce. He‘s too blind (or manipulated) to see that it’s a set-up that will start the great war. The convoluted story comes together in the final act as past and present collide; as Yegor begins to destroy Moscow the eternal armies fight once again, and the balance has been shifted towards darkness. But Director Timur Bekmambetov never loses sight of his characters, letting their story create the foundation for this epic fantasy. This is antithetical to the ‘Hollywood” formula where people are caricatures, paper-thin cutouts whose only purpose is to look beautiful and spout inane dialogue. Thankfully, both of these films deviate from this American confection. The dramatic atmosphere is lightened with much needed humor and even the action sequences are tempered with facetiousness. Finally, Anton’s redemption comes not from above but from deep within his own heart. (B)

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