Sunday, July 26, 2009

Paper Soldier

The Russians certainly know how to do depressing. Paper Soldier starts off confusing and bleak, and goes down hill from there. The ramshackle buildings of the cosomodrome in Kazakhstan exist in endless vistas of mud, snow and ice and look almost indistinguishable from the gulag that is being burnt down not far away. Soldiers, cosmonauts, medical staff, Kazaks, ex-gulag inmates, ex-guard dogs, trucks and a camel wander aimlessly around. People prefer to carry bicycles rather than ride them. Conversations seem almost equally aimless, as no-one seems to be listening to what anyone else is saying.

Paper Soldier is not about the cosmonauts or the space program; they are the backdrop to the disintegration of Daniel, a doctor working with the cosmonauts. Daniel is haunted by the fear that, given the number failures in the unmanned test flights, the cosmonauts may die in space. He shuttles back and forth between his wife, Nina, in Moscow and Vera in at the cosmodrome, being rude and inconsiderate to both of them and his friends and colleagues (and to a third woman who unbelievably is also besotted with him). He doubles up in psychosomatic pain from time to time. Why can't he just drink himself into oblivion like any good Russian? I didn't warm to Daniel.

Just watching this film makes you want to put on a scarf and gloves ... and reach for the Valium.

As a foot note to cheer you up, 10 years after Daniel has gone Nina and Vera share a flat in Moscow.

Apparently any "true lover of the giant screen poetics" will find this film mesmerising -- be warned.

Ian's rating 0/5

No comments:

Post a Comment