Alexandra (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/09/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

The latest film from Alexander Sokurov is essentially a slow-moving, worthy-but-dull drama that's only likely to appeal to hardcore arthouse devotees and fans of Sokurov's earlier films.

What's it all about?
Legendary opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya (which adds an extra note of poignancy in Russia but will go over the heads of Western audiences) plays Alexandra Nikolaevna, a grandmother who has come to visit her grandson (Vasili Shevtsov as Denis) on his military base in the Chechen Republic. She hasn't seen him in seven years, so they gradually get re-acquainted as he takes her on a tour of the base.

The Good
The most arresting thing about Alexandra is that it's a film about war without any actual fighting in it. We see the effect of the seemingly never-ending war on Denis' fellow soldiers, many of whom are barely old enough to shave.

It's hard to imagine a British film about a behind-the-lines soldier getting a visit from his gran, but Sokurov somehow manages it, although you do find yourself wondering whether there was a mountain of paperwork to fill out beforehand.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film is extremely hard to engage with: the pace is extremely slow (Alexandra's a slow-mover herself and the film moves at her pace), the dialogue is mundane (which may be the point, but it's not very interesting) and virtually nothing happens.

In addition, it's hard to warm to Alexandra, as she speaks in a raspy monotone and seems to complain a lot, frequently in subtle-as-a-brick comments, such as ‘You know how to shoot, but do you know how to build?' To make matters worse, Sokurov drains the film of colour, shooting everything in a beige glow that dulls the senses and sends you to sleep.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is all very well if you like this sort of thing, but even at 92 minutes, Alexandra’s likely to be a bit of a slog for all but the most hardcore arthouse devotee.

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Alexandra (PG)
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Content updated: 22/04/2019 19:35

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