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Year: 2007
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Konstantin Lavronenko, Maria Bonnevie, Alexander Baluev, Maxim Shibaev, Katya Kulkina, Dimitry Ulianov, Alexey Vertkov
Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev
Country: Russia
Language: Russian (English subtitles)
UK: 150 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains brief sight of gore, and suicide and abortion references
UK Release Date: 15 August 2008 (Limited Release)
UK Distributor


THE BANISHMENT, which is based on a short story by William Saroyan entitled 'The Laughing Matter', is Russian director Andrey Zvyaginstev's second feature following his Golden Lion win with THE RETURN (2003).

This is a tale of pride and patriarchy, which illuminates the dark soul of the Russian male. The rural setting and tragic tale suggest something as earthy and epic as an Emile Zola novel or as majestic Greek tragedy.

Alex (Konstantin Lavronenko) returns after 12 years to the countryside. Accompanied by his wife Vera (Maria Bonnevie) and their two children, he settles into an old family house. There are fires in the grate, walnut trees in the grounds and it is almost too idyllic to be true.

Alex seems to be a man with a history of violence, drawn from a family pre-disposed to fracture and heartache. His brother Mark (Alexander Baluev) no longer sees his children. The great moral dilemma arrives for Alex when Vera informs him that she is pregnant and the child is not his. His word is law and his instincts spark a chain of tragic consequences...

The cinematography by Mikhail Krichman captures the countryside with blistering beauty whilst the brooding score by Andrey Dergatchev and Arvo Part increases the likelihood of comparisons with the films of David Lynch. Starring Norwegian-born Ingmar Bergman veteran Maria Bonnevie who becomes one of the most compelling human figures in the film.

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