A Room and a Half

2009

A Room and a Half

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 16

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 219
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Movie Info

The life journey of the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky inspired this drama written and directed by Andrey Khrzhanovsky. Brodsky, a Nobel laureate who was born in 1940, fled the Soviet Union in 1972, and died in 1996, once told a reporter that if he were to return to the land of his birth, he'd do so without identifying himself, and in Poltory komnaty ili sentimentalnoe puteshestvie na rodinu (aka A Room and a Half, or a Sentimental Journey to the Homeland), Khrzhanovsky imagines what the voyage would be like, and what he thinks the poet's reaction would be. Touring his old neighborhood, the older Brodsky (Grigoriy Dityatkovskiy) recalls his youth, when he (Artem Smola) lived with his loving father (Sergei Yursky) and mother (Alisa Freindlich) in a small but comfortable apartment in Leningrad following the end of World War II, and the idyll of life with his family colors his view of the world around him. As Brodsky becomes a young man and goes off to college, he learns about art and language, and a new world is opened to him; however, he also becomes aware of the oppressive nature of the Soviet regime, and he begins speaking out in favor of greater freedoms, marking the first steps on his road to exile. A Room and a Half was Andrey Khrzhanovsky's first feature film after a long career in animation and documentaries.

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Critic Reviews for A Room and a Half

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (10)

  • [An] extraordinary kaleidoscope of a film...

    May 13, 2010 | Rating: 4/5
  • Part of the film's message is that we are all exiles -- banished, Housman-like, from the country of our past.

    May 7, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Room and a Half offers an inventive and intimate portrait both of a great artist and of the post-Second World War cultural world of the Soviet Union.

    May 6, 2010 | Rating: 4/4
  • True, [its] hustle and bustle sometimes feels like too much to take in at once, yet its heavy payload of literary quotations, philosophical argument and classical music is also perhaps an act of faith in an intelligent audience.

    May 6, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • An anecdotal jumble of scenes.

    Jan 23, 2010 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Khrzhanovsky's tone is too whimsical at times, and his points about repression too leaden, but that often happens when a cartoonist dabbles in live-action. Anyway, Khrzhanovsky's approach improves the material far more than it hinders.

    Jan 21, 2010 | Rating: B+

    Noel Murray

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for A Room and a Half

  • May 08, 2010
    With enough cats and Communism to fill ten Chris Marker films, "A Room and a Half" may seem on the surface like just another coming of age movie that overstays its welcome. And while that's certainly true to an extent, it's what is going on in the background that is the most compelling. On a long sea voyage back to St. Petersburg(instead of Leningrad, which it was called when he left) after decades in exile, perpetually homesick poet Joseph Brodsky(Grigoriy Dityatkovskiy) thinks back to his childhood. A lot of the movie is told from that vantage point, when he gleans partial truths from overheard conversations that make no sense to a child at the time, while alerting us to the dark side of life in the Soviet Union at the same time. And his family is treated even worse since they are Jewish. As a child, he has a vivid imagination and fantasy life that is occasionally animated, just as the reality of the Soviet Union never matches the fantasy put forward by its leaders. He grows up, just as Stalin's reign ends and the people grow up, too, when they openly learn the crimes of the state. Ironically, that's when Brodsky gets into the most trouble. In the end, it would probably have helped if I was familiar with some of Brodsky's work. And I was surprised to find that somebody was kicked out of the Soviet Union. I had always thought they did their best fo forcibly keep people from leaving.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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