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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:47 am 
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US THEATRICAL RELEASE. Review from SFIFF 2013. This is the full review, held previously.

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SERGEI KOLESOVV, VLADIMIR SVIRSKIY, VLADISLAV ABASHIN IN IN THE FOG

Long day's journey toward moral ambiguity

Western frontiers of the USSR, 1942, the film description goes. The region is under German occupation. A man is wrongly accused of collaboration. Desperate to save his dignity, he faces impossible moral choices.

Mike D'Angelo's Cannes 2012 Tweet review: "In the Fog (Loznitsa): 50. Much more conventional than MY JOY, and somehow feels simultaneously sparse and bloated. Adaptation issue?" He means he thinks "there's an interior monologue gone missing here, as is so often the case." And indeed it often is, with loss of intellectual content over heavy mood and stark visuals. Full D'Angelo AV Club review here. People noted the director's fiction feature debut My Joy (Cannes 2010, NYFF 2010), for its formal daring with its very long POV tracking shots (admired by a cinematographer I watched it with at the NYFF), but it went haywire at the end losing narrative coherence and rubbing one's nose in increasing, pointless violence. But Variety gives In the Fog a good review, which means that it will play. And if its moral issues and plotline are all too simple, as noted by D'Angelo, therefore also people will have something easy to latch onto, which they will like. And the contemporary bleakness and absence of any musical they will admire.

When Sushenya (Vladimir Svirskiy) rescues the wounded man Burov (Vladislav Abashin) who was going to kill him for allegedly causing the hanging of the other partisans, that's where you might need interior monologue, to give Sushenya good reason for this gesture other than simply to make him seem morally superior, because it's' an unwise-seeming move, on the face of it.

As in My Joy, Loznitsa begins with a remarkable authentic-feeling crowd scene involving a long tracking shot. This is where three men get hanged and later Sushenya is released. We see the two men come to get him at home because they assume his release was due to his betraying the other men. Sushenya thinks he was released as a decoy, and repeatedly wishes he'd been hanged with the others. The purpose of the scenes that follow can only be to discuss issues of moral courage. Obviously the unhandsome, weasely Voitek (Sergei Kolesov) is despicable. His compadre Burov (Vladislav Abashin) is a well-meaning fellow, but maybe not too smart, anyway not saintly like the long-suffering Sushenya, who lasts the longest, perhaps for no reason in terms of the plot, which is gear to emphasize the pointlessness of fate.

But if this is a Beckettian journey to nowhere, as it pretty much turns out to be, one might really prefer if it were even more pointless, but more eventful. There seems to be a good deal of time spent just sitting around waiting, exhausted, wounded.

Despite its rough period atmosphere and vivid locales, its titular fog and its looming trees, In the Fog seems very talky and theatrical, one of those many films that could have been done just as well, maybe better, on the stage. Which is fine, and this is a well-crafted film that must have done something to justify its Cannes award, the opening sequence itself showing Loznitsa's ability to stage and shoot scenes in ways few can. Except that at the end I'm left agreeing with D'Angelo that there is not enough here to justify the over two-hour run-time ("The story is simple, arguably too simple").

In the Fog/В тумане, in Russian, 130 mins., debuted at Cannes May 2012, where it was awarded the FIRPRESCI Prize. A dozen festivals and releases in as many different countries followed. The last festival is San Francisco, where it was screened for this review. The film has been acquired by Strand Releasing for US distribution.

In the Fog/В тумане, in Russian, 130 mins., debuted at Cannes May 2012, where it was awarded the FIRPRESCI Prize. A dozen festivals and releases in as many different countries followed. The last festival is San Francisco, where it was screened for this review. The film has been acquired by Strand Releasing for US release (NYC) Fri., 14 June 2013.

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