Beanpole ★★★★½

Do you think back in 2017 when Alexander Sokurov funded Closeness that he would pretty much be setting up his successor for years to come? Although, there are a lot of differences between the two, the only real notable similarity is their nationality but you get what I’m saying. As a notable, pioneering Russian filmmaker. 

Beanpole is a slog, a glacially paced war drama that drags you through by your hair but you’re too scared to scream because this film is quiet. It’s personal, it’s intimate and so up close, the country is in disarray yet the Kantemir Balagov makes it seem as if all that’s important is what’s right in front of you, but further than that he doesn’t even want you focussing on the backgrounds of shots, so much so that often they’re static, set against backgrounds of apartments of run down buildings or hospital walls where there’s stillness, lifelessness from the tragedy of war. Often, we see filmmakers take on this grand task of telling a story of war and they have this huge canvas and they use every inch of it to tell this epic story and often small details get left out and you can feel as if you’re being dragged through the mud. Balagov goes for the opposite, he’s up in the top right corner of the canvas taking his time, understanding that to get a satisfying conclusion to a story in which not too much takes place we must first care about these characters, and we do, the emotional connection you gain with these characters after spending days and days with them is remarkable. It’s an impressive achievement of filmmaking to take an event so huge and make it feel so small.

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