Monday, March 23, 2009

New Directors/New Films 2009: Paper Soldier

Russian director Alexey German Jr. announces his intentions right from the start of “Paper Soldier,” which takes its title from a song about a brave soldier unaware that he's really just a toy made of paper—and who meets his demise by voluntarily stepping into a fire. The period film, set in 1961, harkens back to Russian cinema of the '60s. In addition to winning the Silver Lion and Best Cinematography at last year's Venice International Film Festival, the film also stars the mesmerizing Georgian actor Merab Ninidze as a doctor whose conscience insidiously catches up with him as he works with the young cosmonauts at the Soviet Cosmodrome Baikonur. With exquisite imagery and a script co-written by German Jr. (the son of German Sr., a legendary director from the Leningrad film school) that manages to transform a poetic and philosophical meditation into a tightly paced drama, and a cast that includes the radiant Chulpan Khamatova as doctor Danya's doctor wife, “Paper Soldier” deftly visualizes those dual elements of terrifying uncertainty and thrilling history that were the essence of the Soviet liberal experiment era, crystallized in the space program itself.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant.

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