ANGELY REVOLYUTSII || 2014, Russia || Drama || Directed by – Aleksey Fedorchenko / Written by – Aleksey Fedorchenko, Oleg Loveskiy, Denis Osokin / Produced by – Aleksey Fedorchenko, Leonid Lebedev, Dimitriy Vorobyov / Music by – Andrey Karasyov / Cinematography by – Shandor Berkeshi / Production Design by – Aleksey Fedorchenko, Artyom Kabibulin / Starring – Darya Ekamasova, Konstantin Balakirev, Pavel Basov / Running time: 113 mins.
Five Soviet avant-garde artists, led by a hero of the Bolshevik revolution Polina Schneider, travel to Siberia to “civilize” the native Khanty and Nenets tribe through their idea of “art.”
Aleksey Fedorchenko’s Angels of Revolution is based on a true story, from which its squeezes out all the provocation it requires for potentially unique cinematic vision. The premise itself, representing the violence of a cultural invasion, is pretty original. Though it is mostly associated with a Western brand of cinema, integrated in the American cinematic idiom, it is still somewhat of a novelty in Russian cinema, but one that is rising to prominence.
Fedorchenko’s idea is to strengthen his message by keeping the viewers at a relative distance from the characters and situations. The images are still, unedited and the set-decoration is meticulous. It has the semblance of a comedy, whether deadpan or eccentric, and often welcomes this parallelism. At the same time, the frightening subject upon which it is based gradually creeps in and expands, like a virus, in an otherwise satirical comedy, and turns it into an effective sobering re-evaluation of history.
Angels of Revolution is not without its excesses. It would have been far more rewarding had the gradual takeover of the seriouness been more balanced. As it happens, such inconsistencies harm the film to the point of making it seem self-indulgent. The occasional surrealist and expressionist sets anticipate moods of certain scenes. The purposeful cardboard acting accentuate this type of stylization. Nevertheless, in the end, the film feels exhausting as the experimentation overtakes plot and subject matter. – 3/5