The Island (4 stars)

The Island

Well-told Russian fable of spirituality and guilt

(PG) 150min
(Artificial Eye)

The spirit of Andrei Tarkovsky hovers over Russian cinema maybe more than any other director, perhaps quite aptly for one so given to the spiritual himself. The Island opens with a horrible moment of human weakness. Threatened with imminent death by the Nazis, a young soldier shows where his captain is hiding, and is then forced to shoot him apparently dead so that in return he will be allowed to live. We then cut to a monastery many years later, where the youngster is now an old man, and makes amends by offering miracles: he seems to possess healing powers. Director Pavel Lungin isn’t afraid of some easy plot twists and exaggerated characterisation, but by the end the film has the power of a well-told fable contained by an interesting, concluding paradox. Minimal extras.

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