26 September 2018 | JvH48
Over two hours long and slowly paced but not overly boring. Failed to enlighten me about politics or culture of that time
Saw this at the Berlinale 2018, where it was part of the Competition for the Golden/Silver Bear. A lot of faces pass by, in crowded apartments or various other just as crowded places. Some of those faces will reappear several times. No need to remember all of them, apart from the main protagonist, his ex-wife and daughter of course, as there is no continuing story that brings you from A via B and C to Z.
The division in six days is also not really relevant. It gives you a clear marker, however, that the movie jumps to something completely different each time a date appears on screen. It provides for some structure albeit not crucially important.
There is room for humor, not too much as there is no happy ending (no spoiler: we know this writer was not recognized in his own country and emigrated later, and we also know his own country valued him not until after his death).
Be prepared for name dropping of several famous writers, most of whom I recognize vaguely by name, but have never read them in my life. Maybe you have better luck in fitting them in the context in which their name is mentioned, and judge the name dropping as appropriate or merely done out of pomposity (I assume the former, given the circles our main protagonist usually is in, where one surely knows these names and would protest immediately when improperly quoted).
Trick question: did this movie enlighten me about the period and Russian politics at the time?? No, I think not. But anyone who has read some of the writers who have been quoted, may think otherwise. Several reviewers mentioned that it was a time of a stand still.
What this movie makes abundantly clear, is that the regime does not allow frivolities with their policy, keeping a tight lease on all publications such as journals, magazines and books. It is something that all such regimes seem inclined to do as a matter of course. Is that only to close the ranks, out of fear that the communist dream is not so rosy as one is taught?? Or it is just to not endanger the positions of the current politicians?? I assume that all of the above applies. It seems to apply equally to contemporary dictatorial regimes (Turkey, Iran, and many others), a parallel observation that makes this movie more relevant than it intrinsiccally is when considering the Brezjnew period alone.