Critics Consensus

At once ethereal and tangible, Aleksandr Sokurov's humane Chechen War drama features a spectacular turn by opera star Galina Vishnevskay.



Reviews Counted: 58

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Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Movie Info

Though Russian director Alexander Sokurov's feature Alexandra unfolds against the backdrop of military life, it constitutes a stark and deliberate chamber drama in lieu of a war picture. Alexandra Nikolaevna (Galina Vishnevskaya) is an elderly woman with a grandson, Denis (Vasily Shevtsov), conscripted into the army of the Chechen Republic. When she makes the arduous journey to visit him, the startling nature of military life as it unfolds before her eyes -- the absence of women, the blind acceptance of amenities that so many take for granted, the emotional inexpressiveness -- completely bewilders her and introduces her to a world infinitely more alien than any she has ever experienced.

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Critic Reviews for Alexandra

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (21)

  • At least one critic has called this Sokurov's most political film, but on its deepest level it considers not a particular war but the complex feelings between mothers and the young men they send out into the world to kill or be killed.

    Oct 24, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Sokurov is able to say things about the terrible conflict without obvious polemic but to the maximum possible effect. That's largely why he is one of the most audacious and original directors in the world today.

    Sep 26, 2008 | Rating: 4/5
  • A bone-weariness pervades every inch of the film; even the light is bleached dry of vitality.

    Sep 26, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Top Critic
  • Apart from a thoroughly irritating background track of schmaltzy classical music, this is Sokurov at his shortest and most digestible.

    Sep 26, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's also quietly challenging, in its own way, not least in its portrait of old age, its trials, new freedoms and the privilege of changing one's mind before it becomes too late.

    Sep 26, 2008 | Rating: 4/6 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Remarkable, how little Sokurov tells us, while telling us so much.

    Aug 8, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Alexandra


Sokurov was a genius in his pieces on the Hermitage and the Japanese emperor. Here he takes us on a slow journey to prove that the Russians shouldn't be in Grozny. For once the master storytelling seems unable to make the compelling case.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]Previously with "Russian Ark," Alexander Sokurov had given a cinematic tour of the Hermitage that served as a lesson on Russian history. With his latest film, "Alexandra," Sokurov again gives a guided tour, this time of an army base in occupied territory, seen through the eyes of Alexandra(Galina Vishnevskaya), who is visiting her grandson(Vasily Shevtsov), a captain in the army. As she wanders through the army camp, she is shocked at the state of the soldiers. On the one hand, warfare is nothing new to Russia.(Assuming she is at least 80, then she must remember World War II. There is a quick flashback to reinforce this notion...) But what may separate this conflict(Probably Chechnya...) is that it is fought so close to home against an enemy that while fighting for independence, many consider still part of the mother country. In the end, this is a touching call for peace and for the soldiers to return home safety(All of the characters suffer from loneliness to one degree or another.) while rejecting the comic possibilities of the premise by filming in faded color.(Think about it this way. How many soldiers or officers would not become a laughingstock if their grandmother came to visit?)[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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