Not what you expect...
M. Stott | Cadiz | 04/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who prefer a cerebral type Godfather, I recommend they watch it asap. For fans of Rambo, this is not the right film.
The antihero is Oleg, razor-sharp Russian kingpin gangster, whose absence of a mother figure as a child - his mother having left him and his father at an early age - plagues him increasingly in a flawed world. In an uncut setting, we witness the vain efforts of a man attempting to recover a harmony that he believes he knew in childhood, in a world now that he finds as flawed as he is today.
His attempts to break out against the forces shaping his environment and back to this perceived harmony meet, ironically, with tragedy. To me, at least, the sensitive watcher is left not so much with bitterness against the harshness of the human existence (I ask anyone who considers their life perfect to refute this - and tell me how they do it), as the immense sadness and, perhaps, futility of going against the grain in an imperfect environment.
In parallel, this tense, volatile plot asks the eternal question of if one should knuckle down and accept every piece of bad luck that comes one's way, or live one's own life hell-for-leather, true to one's own priorities - including the intuitive importance of the family. For this watcher at least, the film answers "Better to regret something you have done than something you haven't".
The result, for this viewer, is not just - with a twist - that one has to make do with one's history but that one needs breathing space in this all too fragile and tender existence. If not, you probably have to suffer the consequences of having gone too far.
As mentioned above, this is not for the superficial or quick-thrill crowd. The central character is far from perfect, but then - and thinking that this is an artistic "what if ?" type exploration of the way anyone might live their lives - no one is. And, who knows, if someone you knew in the same situation - we must all know half-rational people at least similar to Oleg - felt they had to make things right in their life at long last, what would any of us have against it?
Last but not least, the film was executed with a great soundtrack, script and atmosphere and comfortably repaid several subsequent viewings."
AN INTRIGUING CONCEPT, BADLY EXECUTED
BOB | LOS ANGELES, CA | 02/07/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I've read thru the laudatory reviews below, and I hate to be the funny-colored "pickle" in the punchbowl, but I have to say that this movie is a complete mess. Many abstract elements, characters and sub-plots were intentionally written into the script to distract the viewer from discerning the film's major plot twist.
Unfortunately, the majority of these were poorly conceived, unnecessary and badly directed. Dean Stockwell's appearing/disappearing character & random narrative, and Lesley Ann Warren's bad Russian accent, are also major distractions.
Midway through the film, when most of the designed distractions just aren't making sense, and you realize you're being had, the film's main "is-she-or-isn't-she" plot device becomes all too obvious long before a pseudo-revelatory, anti-climatic final scene.
The film never forms any type of cohesive narrative. A more accomplished writer would have eliminated the extraneous characters and sub-plots and focused on developing the relationship, and creating an escalating tension, between the two leads.
Also, the full-frame presentation of the DVD is distracting. It makes the film look like a cheap Fox Network TV-movie-of-the-week. About the only positive thing I can state about this movie is the cast looks great, as they all appear in formal evening attire for the majority of the film."
ishtarg | istanbul Turkey | 02/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent movie which has the rare quality of being as moving upon successive viewings... Has a strange affinity in terms of the feeling it evokes to the classic "They Shoot Horses, Don't They"... The musical score is excellent both in itself and in the way it contributes to the portrayal of the characters involved."