Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sergey Govorukhin: Nobody but Us - Никто, кроме нас… (2008)

Director:Sergei Govorukhin
Writers:Sergei Sharkhel (screenplay), Antonida Tropinina (screenplay)
Stars: Sergei Shnyryov, Mariya Mironova,Sergey Makhovikov

In Sergei Govorukhin’s Nobody but Us, a dying war correspondent in a cancer ward emphatically reminds the film’s main character Evgenii Levashov (played by Sergei Shnyrov) of his moral duty to continue documenting the dangerous border war in Tajikistan. “This is a just war. The country must know about it. Film it,” the correspondent compels his young colleague. Levashov, who has just found his true love Natasha (played by Mariia Mironova) in his brief two weeks in civilian life, indeed chooses to return to the conflict as witness to the fighting. The weight of this moral responsibility, endlessly underscored throughout the film, almost costs Levashov his life in an Afghani ambush. Nonetheless, the single-mindedness of this imperative gravely compromises Nobody but Us from an artistic standpoint, which sadly fails as both as a war film and a romantic story of star-crossed lovers.

Sergei Govorukhin’s recent career appears singularly dedicated to documenting “forgotten wars” and paying tribute to the heroism and patriotism of Russian troops, past and present. He has produced and directed the documentaries, Cursed and Forgotten (Prokliaty i zabyty, 1997) on the Chechen war and Composition on a Vanishing Subject (Sochinenie na ukhodiashchuiu temu, 2001) which juxtaposed some disinterested, partying youth on Victory Day both with actual war footage and the stories of World War Two survivors. His first feature film, Nobody but Us (which he wrote, directed, and produced) proves no exception to this trajectory. Son of the distinguished director Stanislav Govorukhin and a former Duma deputy, Govorukhin abandoned a privileged civilian life to serve in the Russian army. As a war correspondent, he saw action in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and Chechnya, where he was seriously wounded in 1995 and subsequently lost a leg. At home, he has created the Rokada Charity Foundation for disabled war veterans and has been an active member of the Russian Federation’s Commission for Human Rights. His personal and professional courage is without question, justly earning him both state decorations for his military service and humanitarian awards for Nobody but Us. [1] In this film, Govorukhin turns his lens on the (admittedly unfamiliar) conflict along the Afghan-Tajik border in the 1990s, when the Russian military fought rebels in order to protect the former Soviet republic from disintegration.

Reviewed by Susan Corbesero © 2009 in KinoKultura

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