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95 minutes
Set amid the Russian occupation of Chechnya, this 2007 drama by Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark) stars the venerable soprano Galina Vishnevskaya as an old Russian woman who pays an unlikely visit to her soldier grandson and gets a firsthand look at the soul-hardening routines of the military. With its desaturated colors and sepia-toned palette, the movie itself seems to be covered in dust, and Sokurov's stately pacing nurtures a mood of quiet contemplation as the old woman bonds with the kindly solicitous soldiers at the camp. At least one critic has called this Sokurov's most political film, but on its deepest level it considers not a particular war but the complex feelings between mothers and the young men they send out into the world to kill or be killed. In Russian with subtitles.

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