Almost Holy (Crocodile Gennadiy) (2016)
Critic Consensus: Almost Holy offers a close-up look at a fascinating figure whose controversial work and extraordinary story pack the narrative punch of a well-written drama.
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Critic Reviews for Almost Holy (Crocodile Gennadiy)
The doc is maybe a little one-sided, but it's fascinating.
Steve Hoover peels back multiple layers of Mokhnenko's story with artistry and acuity, assisted by a heady and propulsive score from composer Atticus Ross.
This documentary isn't about heroes and villains, or determining right and wrong. It's about hope in the face of hopelessness, and what drives a man to keep trying to change the seemingly unchangeable.
To the filmmakers, Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a bit of a superhero. I found myself leaning that way too.
"Almost Holy" captures something meaningfully urgent in the brutal day-to-day of tough love amid a world of tougher indifference.
Audience Reviews for Almost Holy (Crocodile Gennadiy)
A compelling character study into a gritty modern day Saint in the Ukraine. A film that really studies the true nature of moral vigilante justice and the costs of its deliverance. This is not simply a singular quest to avenge a wrong in a fireworks display of violence and satiation, but a life's mission to confront the moral and social failing of a deeply damaged society and the toll that mission takes on the man. The film is well shot and beautifully captures the gray depressing sights of Mariupol. Ominous smoke stacks burn perpetually in the background alongside shattered and neglected school yards, a glimpse into the priorities of the social order. Everyone is generally content to empower this pastor to continue his work and only mildly criticize his vigilante nature, but little is done to combat the systemic cause of all the suffering. The tone of the film is relentless in its despair and offering only brief glimmers of hope. The somber message is, however, delivered with subtlety, so the film is not overly weighed down to the point of being despondent. I think the best way to describe the film is that there is taint to all of the work the pastor must complete that is echoed in the filming and subtle recurring themes showcased. This really highlights the unspoken burden and toll of being a person who goes beyond the law to right wrongs. There is no particular clean glory in being a true moral vigilante. Stylized vengeance is a cheap moment, a life filling the void of ordered society is a different sort of justice. It is darker and much more unsettling. There is a tendency to aggrandize and sanctify the business of helping the truly downtrodden, it is referred to as a holy or wholly pure activity. The title of the film is well chosen in that it captures the real nature of moral vigilantism as exemplified by the character being studied. There is an interesting recurring theme with water and ritual cleansing that really develops the film's message and the pastor's life. Despite all the water and ritual, the unsettling taint of forces that necessitate his work are never fully washed away. There is no way to "fully clean one's soul", Genniady notes in the film.
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