(PG) 90min (Artificial Eye DVD retail)
Few filmmakers do melancholic intimacy better than Alexander Sokurov. Maybe it has to do with his fascination with capturing vulnerability and the presence of death, exemplified by Taurus (about the dying Lenin) and Mother and Son (where a mother passes away in her son’s arms).
Here the two come together again as an old woman visits a Russian regiment in Chechnya looking for the grandson she hasn’t seen for years. As she wanders through districts ripped apart by war, with buildings buckled by bombings, her shuffling demeanour echoes the decay all around her. But one is due to age, the other to war – one inevitable and the other less so. Sokurov’s wise film is shot in subdued tones and with mournful grace, and contains a tough, unsentimental performance from famous Russian opera star Galina Vishnevskaya as the grandmother. Extras includes an interview with Sokurov.