What the unholy s**t was that? The 2nd mind f**k of a movie this year so far, but even 𝘊𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘳 𝘖𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦 was a horse from a very different movie galaxy than 𝘉𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘶. This is closer to a spaghetti western mixed with a bit of 𝘔𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘺, with typical land grab barbarism. Sonia Braga rocks again. Plus, Udo fu**in' Kier. 3.8 stars
Balagov is a major young talent; an exceptional artist with perhaps the most potential and brightest future of any young director. Ila is manic, miserable and manipulated, but she also makes a lot of her own misery. All principal characters are especially well acted, but Darya Zhovner is just remarkable in conveying so much of a range of mental & emotional extremes and subtleties throughout this film. Plus, the brilliant camerawork; capturing the faces in points of great drama and havoc, but also the gorgeous countryside of the North Caucasus. I so look forward to many more films of such power and grace from Balagov.
This is a gorgeous film. Impressive work by screenwriter and director Peter Strickland of setting and maintaining the proper tone throughout, varying it when necessary. Even better was his understanding of the power of the human face and body language; how so much can be expressed without words, with just a look,or a look away. Excellent casting as well, as Knudsen and D'Anna give every impression of being a couple very much in love and very much aware of how to appease the other's great desires. Finally, the imagery of the moths and butterflies throughout added its own strength to the film. These very subtle, fragile creatures also perform remarkable physical feats as they are brimming with energy.
A lot of critics are being myopic, if not outright hypocritical, about their reviews, apparently depending on where the film comes from and whether their white/West privileged guilt kicks in or not. To bash "Katie Says Goodbye" (which, granted, isn't so good) as being 'nearly 90 minutes of terrible things happening to the protagonist', or saying 'the lead character is so utterly guileless and innocent and kindhearted -- she's essentially a smiley face with a "KICK ME" sign taped to her back while heaping nothing but praise on "House of Hummingbird" is absurd bs. "HoH" is just as relentlessly miserable as "Katie...", but it's even more troubling and a friggin' bummer. So that makes it that much better, that's it's more depressing and worse to the lead? Both are movies with the same issues that could've been solid, impressive films, imo.