This compelling, intelligent, heart-warming drama directed by Sergei Loznitsa was a real flop in Russia. But this co-production between Belarus, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands and Russia had some success on the world scene - even competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and won the Golden Apricot at the 2012 Yerevan International Film Festival in Armenia. I can understand that in the modern times with lots of individuals with short attention span there will be limited number of those who will appreciate the slow tempo of storytelling, and this movie feels like it tells a story in a real time - like we are there. You can almost feel the cold, pain, love... everything from the screen is magically transferred to the audience! The director Sergei Loznitsa deserves praise. What a wonderful job he did.
It wasn't an easy task to adapt Vasil' Bykaw's short story. Everything is happening in 1942 on the territory of Belarus occupied by the German army. The Germans face strong resistance from the Partisans and hatred of most of the local people, but there are people who work with the Germans, because there were tough choices to make. Sushenya is a track-walker arrested and then suddenly released after three of his co-workers were hanged for blowing up a German train. Two Partisans, one of them his close friend have an order to capture Sushenya and lead him to the forest where they have to shoot him as a traitor... but life has different plans!
I haven't enjoyed such complex acting from the main characters for a long time. Vladimir Svirskiy as Sushenya, Vladislav Abashin as Burov and Sergei Kolesov as Voitik have three completely different characters and you could almost feel the way they think - they were working perfectly with each other to bring the feel of chemistry which is necessary for movies like this to feel real. And this one did!
If you are a fan of an intense, slow-burning and haunting drama, pick this one.