Burnt by the Sun
Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov
Burnt by the Sun
Set in 1936, in the high summer of Stalinist rule, Nikita Mikhalkov's movie centers on a Soviet Army colonel (played by Mikhalkov) and the family group that circulates around him in an idyllic dacha. The idyll cracks when the state, in the person of a family friend (Oleg Menchikov), comes to wreak havoc; a work that began in the rustling spirit of Chekhov ends like a Scorsese picture, with thugs raining blows in the back of a car. What binds the mixture is Mikhalkov's love of all the stray details his camera catches; the movie may sound dispiriting, but it has an amazing ability to cheer you up. There is a full range of acting styles, from the florid to the cartoonish, and to the sharp-eyed, wholly uncute performance of the director's eight-year-old daughter, Nadia, who gazes at the unfolding events with the air of one who will never be able to banish them from her memory.
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