Sunday, 21 June 2015
The Banishment 
Influences of Tarkovsky (stylistically) and Bergman (thematically) are immediately discernible in Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev’s brooding psychological drama The Banishment. While in his next film Leviathan he focused on a man’s losing battle against the societal corruption surrounding him, here he dealt with the protagonist’s struggle within, with familial fissures and ruptures, along with an alienating landscape, forming the key linkage. The gripping sequence that the film begins with – a seemingly wounded man driving through a desolate urban-industrial landscape shot in blue-gray shades – set the tone for what was to follow. The man, Mark (Aleksandr Baluyev), has connections with the underworld and is having a gunshot wound, as is revealed, is racing to the house of his brother Alex (Konstantin Lavronenko), the film’s protagonist, in order to have the slug removed. Soon after, Alex relocates with his family, comprising of his wife Vera (Maria Bonnevie) and two young kids, to a cottage he grew up in the countryside, possibly in order to escape from his past and rebuild his life. However, when his wife informs him that she’s pregnant and that he’s not the father, it inevitably leads them all towards disarray and doom. The delicate heteronormative threads that hold a family together, along with the protagonist’s tussles with his masculinity and his barely suppressed existential crisis, thus, formed the dominant threads around which this ominous and leisurely paced movie was woven. The dazzling photography magnificently captured the empty spaces – both physical and emotional, and along with the minimalist score and sparse narrative, brilliantly captured the characters’ inner voids, while the performances, particularly Lavronenko’s restrained turn as the troubled protagonist, added fuel to its simmering tragedy.
Director: Andrey Zvygintsev
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Marriage Drama