Mother and Son

Apart from the eye-filling black-and-white video Oriental Elegy, Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov's painterly, visionary side has seldom been more evident than in this gorgeous 1997 contemplation of a son caring for his dying mother. The story is minimal, but the color images are so breathtaking that there?s never a lax moment; even when the already slow action is reduced to a virtual standstill, Sokurov?s intensity insures that something is always happening, both on the screen and inside us. (This is only 73 minutes long, but if you?re hungry for plot, it will seem like an eternity.) In his taste and his patience, Sokurov may be our only truly 19th-century avant-gardist—which means in effect that his works are timeless.

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