Synopsis by Mark Deming
The life journey of the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky inspired this drama written and directed by Andrey Khrzhanovsky. Brodsky, a Nobel laureate who was born in 1940, fled the Soviet Union in 1972, and died in 1996, once told a reporter that if he were to return to the land of his birth, he'd do so without identifying himself, and in Poltory komnaty ili sentimentalnoe puteshestvie na rodinu (aka A Room and a Half, or a Sentimental Journey to the Homeland), Khrzhanovsky imagines what the voyage would be like, and what he thinks the poet's reaction would be. Touring his old neighborhood, the older Brodsky (Grigoriy Dityatkovskiy) recalls his youth, when he (Artem Smola) lived with his loving father (Sergei Yursky) and mother (Alisa Freindlich) in a small but comfortable apartment in Leningrad following the end of World War II, and the idyll of life with his family colors his view of the world around him. As Brodsky becomes a young man and goes off to college, he learns about art and language, and a new world is opened to him; however, he also becomes aware of the oppressive nature of the Soviet regime, and he begins speaking out in favor of greater freedoms, marking the first steps on his road to exile. A Room and a Half was Andrey Khrzhanovsky's first feature film after a long career in animation and documentaries.