Andrey Zvyagintsev Brunches
The Banishment 12A (S)
Zvyagintsev's visually powerful and haunting rural drama expertly explored the themes of family and masculinity in crisis and confirmed the director's place at the forefront of the new wave of Russian cinema.
An adaptation of The Laughing Matter, a little-known 1953 novella by the Armenian-American writer William Saroyan, the film follows Alex (Konstantin Lavronenko, who appeared as the prodigal father in The Return), Vera (Maria Bonnevie), their young son and daughter, and Alex's brother Mark, as they relocate from the city to an old house in the country. Once there, Vera tells Alex that she is pregnant by another man, causing him to face huge personal dilemmas, wondering whether to forgive her or exact revenge. Acting on advice from his malevolent brother, Alex demands that Vera terminate the pregnancy, but when complications suddenly arise, Alex's weakening grasp on reality threatens to place events beyond his control.
An abstract story about the great moral complexities that surround fundamental human emotions, The Banishment is told with the same dazzling assurance that so entranced viewers of The Return and again demonstrated Zvyagintsev's ability to produce cinematic compositions of staggering grandeur.