The Banishment (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose first picture was the sublimely haunting The Return, hasn't quite matched its impact with his second.

Shooting in long, meditative takes, he unfolds a tragic tale, of mistaken motives and ruinous pride, like a Russian Thomas Hardy.

A man (Konstantin Lavronenko) repairs to an isolated house in the country with his wife (Maria Bonnevie) and young children. While he waits there – for what? – she reveals to him that she's pregnant, and that it's not his. The film works mostly in ellipses and silences, establishing a solemnly mysterious mood that has something to do with the man's shady brother (Alexander Baluyev, very convincing). But Zvagintsev misjudges the structure and dilutes the dramatic crux with a half-hour of flashbacks; too little, too late.

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