117 days ago
A free remake of "12 Angry Men", made in 1957. I saw it on Romanian TV as a kid - by the time they were showing real stuff not reality shows, talk shows and any other kind of show-much-and-say-nothing.
So, today's film was really strong, the kind of poignant masterpiece that won't even let you breathe. The story was moved to our days, or rather to the days of war in Chechnya. A 17 years old of Chechen origin is accused of the murder of his adoptive Russian father, a former army officer who fought the war but was a family friend.
The lively debate of the 12 jurors is intertwined with horror images of the war and contrasting ones of the boy alone in his cell. The whole movie is a crescendo, going from 12 common, indifferent looking people who just want to finish by voting "guilty" and go on with their own lives, to the shocking unveiling of their personalities and stories, from the chauvinist taxi-driver to the ex-army officer who paints watercolors in his country house and plays the juror from time to time.
It is also a fresco of the Russian society with its social classes, various professions and idiosyncrasies. An explanation on why things are the way they are. The images are amazing, with strong close-ups, attention to detail and people's characters revealed by their gestures and mimic. Mikhalkov himself plays a great discrete part until he choses to appear as some kind of Saviour.
I also disliked the long finale mentioning the "Russian officer's word" (not Soviet:), an allusion to religion and importance of free will expressed through a bird who choses the rough outside weather to the warm closed room. But altogether it was a great cinematic experience, and I was glad to pick this film amongst other choices in the festival.