Burnt by the Sun

Trying to figure out why this interminable, hammy piece of Russian nostalgia by Nikita Mikhalkov (director, cowriter, associate producer, and star) won the Oscar for best foreign film of 1994 and the grand jury prize at Cannes, I came up with four hypotheses: (1) there are no Asians in it; (2) set over one long summer day in the country in 1936, it provides a wake-up call about the dangerously underhanded doings of Joseph Stalin; (3) the hero appears to be well over 60; and (4) the elegiac “Chekhovian” style recalls Ingmar Bergman by way of Woody Allen, thus making the film seem trebly familiar. Indeed, apart from intermittent bursts of Edouard Artemiev's bombastic music, this 134-minute period piece offers the ideal opportunity for a long, peaceful snooze. With Oleg Menchikov, Ingeborga Dapkounaite, and Nadia Mikhalkov. In Russian with subtitles.

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