Banishment, The (Izgnanie) (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/08/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 153 mins

The Banishment is beautifully shot and impressively acted, but its slow-moving story, painful pacing and minimal dialogue may prove prohibitive to all but the most hardcore arthouse devotees.

What's it all about?
Acclaimed Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev's follow-up to The Return stars Konstantin Lavronenko as Alex, who is encouraged by his shady brother Mark (Alexander Baluev) to relocate to a remote country house that was owned by their late father. Alex duly moves into the house with his family – including his wife, Vera (Maria Bonnevie) and their two young children, Kir and Eva (Maxin Shibaev and Katya Kulkina) – and they begin their new life, but he's stunned when his wife suddenly announces that she's pregnant and that he's not the father.

The Good
The Banishment looks stunning throughout, thanks to impressive cinematography by Mikhail Crichman, who also worked on The Return. The performances are strong too (Konstantin Lavronenko won the best actor prize at Cannes in 2007), particularly considering that there's very little dialogue.

In addition, the film boasts an impressive score and some stunning location work (it was shot in Moldova, France and Belgium).

The Bad
The problem is that The Banishment is one of those films where everything moves incredibly slowly and you only get tiny flashes of drama (Vera's revelation, Alex hitting her about 45 minutes later) every twenty minutes or so, interspersed with painfully long silences or slow pans along floors or landscapes. It's also difficult to engage with the story on an emotional level, since we know so little about the characters.

With a two and a half hour running time, the film becomes something of an endurance test, even for hardcore arthouse devotees. That said, there are some impressive moments along the way, but they never coalesce into a satisfying whole.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Banishment is beautifully shot drama, but its lengthy running time and slow-paced story make it extremely difficult to sit through. For arthouse devotees only.

Film Trailer

Banishment, The (Izgnanie) (12A)
Banishment, The (Izgnanie) has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 21/09/2018 13:33

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