Saturday, June 2, 2012
When will I learn to ignore the critics? Sigh.... "Elena" got raves from the professionals. OK, granted the acting is flawless, and I appreciated the sub-titles for the Russian (there's very little dialogue in the film), but I am not a fan of dreary, noir, "atmosphere" pictures, for which genre this certainly qualifies. Slow moving (plodding might be a more accurate term); the "action" that takes place goes at a tedious snails pace showing the lead, middle aged (55/60ish?) "Elena" waking up in the morning, going through a detailed consistent, boring routine day after day after day, after -- (well , you get the idea), waking her affluent husband "Vladmir" (a bit older), who sleeps in a different bed, and then goes off to the gym, or maybe to his office (though sometimes he grabs her hand and leads her back to bed). They met ten years ago when he was in the hospital with Peritonitis, and she was his nurse. He has a daughter from a previous marriage, and she has a son from a previous marriage. Their only fights are about the money that she wants to get from her husband for her grown son, whereas he feels the boy (age 30) should be taking care of his own son and not expecting anything from him. meanwhile, she does bring cash to her son. Oh, the music, Philip Glass' beautiful Symphony #3 was perfectly chosen to suit the one hour and 49 minutes of torture I endured. I can't fault the Director Andrei Zvyagintsev, he knew it was about Russia, and captured it successfully. No comedy for sure. (Did I already say the critics liked it?) But for me, though I can appreciate a serious drama, I prefer a few laughs. I'd even settle for a romance, but this was a big disappointment. (In all fairness, I have to report it shows scenes from the poorest sections of Moscow, contrasted with (?) the wealthy areas where Elena and her husband live. SPOILER ALERT AHEAD: Did I mention that he has a heart attack, and then, when he plans to write a will (giving his daughter the lion's share of his Estate), Elena gives him an overdose of Viagra which, of course, kills him? Then his daughter and Elena (and her sons and grandson) all live "happily" ever after in his splendid apartment that she and the daughter jointly inherit. The abrupt "ending" simply shows them all gathered around watching television. Well, at least the theater was air-conditioned, my seat was comfortable, and the popcorn was fresh.