Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Est-Ouest
France/Russia/Ukraine/Bulgaria/Spain, 1999. UGC YM, France 3 Cinéma, NTV-PROFIT, Gala Film, Mate Producciones S.A., Canal+, Sofica Sofinergie 5, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Studio 1+1. Screenplay by Rustam Ibragimbekov, Sergey Bodrov, Louis Gardel, Regis Wargnier. Cinematography by Laurent Dailland. Produced by Yves Marmion. Music by Patrick Doyle. Production Design by Aleksey Levchenko. Costume Design by Pierre-Yves Gayraud. Film Editing by Herve Schneid.
Depressing but strong drama about an expatriate Russian doctor who accepts Stalin’s invitation to return to 1930’s Russia with his French wife (Sandrine Bonnaire, fantastic) and son only to see his friends and comrades get butchered and imprisoned by a militant communist regime. Thanks to their medical occupation, Bonnaire and her husband are spared either cruel fate but are forced to live in much harsher conditions than they ever had known before, finding themselves trapped in the country when they try to return to France. Catherine Deneuve is excellent in a supporting role as a famous actress who helps Bonnaire with her plans to escape. Directed by Regis Wargnier, who won an Academy Award for his exquisite Indochine (also starring Deneuve), this one is of the same epic proportions but without quite the same high-ranking results.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
Toronto International Film Festival: 1999