Eye For Film >> Movies >> Live To Remember (2008) Film Review
Live To Remember
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Based on a short story by Valentin Rasputin, Live To Remember is the sort of thing the BBC would have made if they had only had the idea first – although its similarities to a good tea-time television drama should not condemn it.
Set in a rural Russian village, in 1944, Nastya (Daria Moroz) works on the homefront chopping down trees for the war effort in between her subsistence farming, like all the other young women in the village. In the few moments they aren’t hard at work, they dream of the day when the war will end and their boys will come home for good – even those who have already received death notices.
One night, out of the blue, Nastya gets the shock of her life when hubby Andrei (Mikhail Evlanov) turns up out of nowhere, having deserted the army, and asks for her help in less than loving fashion: “If you tell anyone. I’ll kill you.”
His secret is kept, amid a string of additional threats but, as Nastya visits his hideaway, a bond grows between them. But with the war coming to an end, an unexpected surprise for them both and the rest of the village soldiers due home any time its clear their happiness is at risk.
Director Alexander Proshkin sees contrast as crucial. The difference between the harsh winter landscape, epitomised by the crunch of snow under foot, and the outbreaks of village warmth as the community comes together in celebration or mourning. The indifference of the state to all but transgression compared to neighbours interested in every detail. He uses his camera well to emphasise these elements, setting the warmth of fires against the backdrop of snow; the fragility of a calf, against the harshness of winter. He is less successful, however, in terms of staging, with some scenes feeling overly theatrical.
Moroz and Evlanov work well together but as time passes the emotional shifts of the story crash into them like a tidal wave. What begins as a gradual thaw between their characters is vaporised under the intense heat of some clumsy scripting, although it may be that some of the subtitling fails to pass on the nuance. Still, if you like your Dickens dark, your Hardy harsh or your Bronte brutal, you’ll definitely warm to this.Reviewed on: 12 Sep 2008