Mother and Son (1997)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 6, 1998 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - Russia   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Mat i Syn is quite literally a film unlike any other. Indeed, it may be more accurate to describe Mat as a cinematic experience rather than a film, so unlike typical films is it. Because it is so sui generis, it is likely to inspire wildly divergent reactions among viewers. Those who are drawn to traditional narratives, for example, may not be able to tolerate Mat i Syn, which is essentially a moody, elegiac character study rather than a plot-driven film. Yet those who gravitate toward traditional character studies may also be frustrated, as there is not a tremendous development or deeper understanding of the characters from the first frame to the last. Instead, the viewer experiences the wrenching emotional tie that binds the two characters: an intensely felt love that is both cleansing and painful. This connection is palpable from the first moment and carries on throughout the film. The work of the two actors is incredibly naturalistic and believable, especially in the pauses. The film is filled with pauses, but they are not pauses of a Harold Pinter style; instead they are pauses that are simultaneously more mundane and more meaningful. Framing the actors, and equally as important, are the gorgeous visuals: images that shimmer and fade and gleam, suffused with light and shadow and color, and which are simply magnificent. Director Alexander Sokurov's precise, intense vision is brought to vivid life through Alexei Fyodorov's incredible cinematography, the two combining with Vladimir Persov and Martin Steyer's impeccable sound design to create a visual and aural landscape of the soul that is unforgettable.