Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ALEXANDRA (Aleksandr Sokoruv, 2007, Russia) The obscene wastefulness of youth, lives, and resources; the daily boredom and moral erosion are seen through the eyes of an elderly woman. Alexandra visits her nephew, a Russian soldier stationed in Chechnya, and her mundane daily experiences are a filter to witness the effects of war through a new lens…aging eyes that have seen the fall of Communism and the rise of militant religiosity. Director Aleksandr Sokoruv films in a washed out palette, draining almost all color and life out of the image, painting a dirty and grimy montage that reflects the emotional territory explored by the subtext. Alexandra is a self-centered but lonely woman, full of herself with ethnocentric worldviews but her stance begins to change over the course of her visit. The other soldiers, who are seemingly nothing more than children who long for their own mothers, revere her matronly presence. This is a war film without the visceral shrapnel of war; it’s a sublime film that examines prejudice and the idle fingers that lead to nihilistic inhumanity. When you cease to care about people then killing becomes just another job, another paycheck to cash, living on the blood money of hopelessness. But Alexandra’s foray into a Chechnyian village brings her into contact with loving people; specifically an older woman much like herself. She begins to understand that underneath destructive polemics, we are all the same species. Alexandra knows that they should be friends and in a grand gesture, invites her home…a visit that the war makes unlikely. But the seeds are planted that may someday grow into an olive branch. (B-)

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