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The Banishment

Russia 2007. Dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev. 157 min. DCP

“A mythic masterpiece ... The Banishment confirms Zvyagintsev as a director of world stature.”

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s highly anticipated follow-up to The Return, his much-exalted 2003 debut feature, was another meditative, masterfully controlled rumination on family misfortune in the register of Andrei Tarkovsky. Konstantin Lavronenko, also of The Return, won Best Actor at Cannes for his performance as Alex, a taciturn husband and father who whisks his family away to the countryside following an unexplained, undoubtedly criminal episode involving his brother and a bullet wound. There, in the languor of their new pastoral life, Alex’s wife Vera (Norwegian-Swedish actress Maria Bonnevie) announces that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. A staggeringly visual, slow-burn study of psychological and spiritual estrangement, Zvyagintsev’s audacious sophomore feature, adapted from William Saroyan’s 1953 novel The Laughing Matter, was conceived over three years and shot in four countries — France, Belgium, Moldova, and Russia — a masterstroke that bolsters the film’s cosmic sense of dislocation.



"Andrey Zvyagintsev tells stories with an extraordinary concentration on surface detail lending even brutal scenes a sort of lyrical beauty."

Musée Magazine | full review