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Nuclear movie meltdown

OUT NOW! V SUBBOTU poorly conveys the Chernobyl disaster with little sense to it.

With an undeniable flair for timing and a dismal sense of what a cinematic take on a great human tragedy should look like, Mindadze conceived this film as his own artistic contribution marking the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986. The film was shown in the main competition at the last Berlinale, so one could expect a grandiose, emotionally and visually staggering memorial to the world’s greatest nuclear disaster (so far).

The plot is original: young Communist party official Valery finds out that the nuclear reactor has exploded and grabs his girlfriend Vera to escape the city. But her heel breaks and they miss the last train, so instead they go to buy new shoes and then get drunk and sing songs at a wedding party. THE END.

The problem is not only that reality caught up with fiction – more heart-wrenchingly than any film could convey – but that the story is only original insofar that it does not make any sense whatsoever. Valery’s sudden change of mind is unexplained and unexplainable. The usually excellent cinematographer Oleg Mutu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) provides for a blazing edge-of-the-seat opening, but his epileptic, adrenalin-filled handheld camerawork ends up getting in the way, raising your levels of exasperation instead of your adrenalin – and the film sinks into the total drunken chaos it is supposed to depict.

V Subbotu (An einem Samstag) I Directed by Alexander Mindadze (Russia, Germany, Ukraine 2011) with Anton Shagin. Starts 21