Russian study of an intense family relationship

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Score 3

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Father And Son

OPENS AUGUST 20, CERT PG, 83 MINS

Alexander Sokurov was most recently responsible for Russian Ark, which magically took in the sweep of Russian history in a single, unblinking camera shot. Here, he returns to explore themes he took up in his previous movie, Mother And Son. Alexei attends military school with a view to becoming a soldier like his father, with whom he lives in a cloistered loft apartment. He has a girlfriend but can’t fully commit to her, so close is the bond with his father, who in turn dotes on his son because he reminds him of his late wife.

Despite an opening scene in which both father and son are entwined and writhing together (Alexei is being comforted by his father following a nightmare), Sokurov has indignantly refuted claims that the film is homoerotic, merely intense. But given the soft, idyllic fleshtones in which the film is bathed and the physical intimacy of their relationship, such connotations are hard to dismiss.