19 September 2006 | cat-that-goes-by-himself
Could have been a masterpiece with less nihilism and self-indulgence
I would call this movie "anti-Zvezda". As "Zvezda" was the archetype of the brainless glorification of Russian patriotism, "Svoi" is a kind of archetypal self-indulging praise of the "slavic soul" (for lack of a better term).
The 3 main protagonists are absolute anti-heroes, motivated only by instincts and urges, cunning rather than intelligent, emotional rather than rational, calculating rather than friendly. I felt like the director was patting the audience on the head, saying "see, I show us at our worst, but we're still a great people". A strange case of reverse-patriotism ?
Don't get me wrong : I happen to like the Russian way of thinking myself (as far as a "foreigner" is supposedly able to grasp it :)), but here frankly I think the director went way over the top. The result is a heavily demagogic movie, wading in senseless chaos and human degradation with an all too obvious nihilistic pleasure.
"Svoi" reminded me of the very disappointing sequel "nezavisimaia zhizn'" ("an independent life") of the excellent "zamri, umri, voskresni" (freeze, die, resurrect) from director Vitali Kanevski. I mean to say, "svoi" could have been a very good movie with a bit more finesse and some sense of proportions.
Too bad, since the story in itself has a great potential, the director knows how to shoot powerful and beautiful scenes and the actors are really good. This made my disappointment only worse. But here again, I'm no Russian ;).