Khrustalyov, My Car!, Dir. Aleksei German, Russia, 1998, 147 min, Russian with English subtitles
In Moscow 1953 the anti-Jewish purges are ongoing and Stalin is on his deathbed. When General Yuri Glinsky, a military surgeon, tries to escape, he is abducted, taken to the lowest rungs of hell and deposited at the heart of the enigma.
Alexei German’s deeply personal penultimate film is a work of solid and constant disorientation, masterfully orchestrated. Enigmatic phrases, sounds, gestures and micro-events pass before the alternately jumpy and exhausted characters can make sense of them. German’s lustrous, high-contrast black and white cinematography and meticulously constructed soundscape are permeated with the feel of life in a totalitarian society, where something monumental is underway but no one knows precisely what or when or how it will break.
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