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127. Malmkrog; movie review

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Title : 127. Malmkrog; movie review
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Cert 12
201 mins
BBFC advice: Contains brief moderate violence, discriminatory references

It is 40 years since I sat in a philosophy lecture - I struggled with maintaining concentration then but at least it was only an hour.
And it was in English.
Set around 1900, Malmkrog's cast mainly uses French with occasional German and the odd word of Russian and English. Thus, subtitles were necessary - three and a half hours of them.
The film is set in a manor house and focuses on five aristocrats trying to outwit each other on subjects such as politics, society, religion and war.
Between elegantly served meals, they present arguments which are dissected by the others.
There is a thin veneer of politeness but there is clear joy in the use of verbal daggers to spear fellow guests.
As the debate becomes more heated, so significant differences emerge and the mood becomes tenser.
Let's make one point very clear - Malmkrog is both attractive and superbly acted by Frédéric Schulz-Richard, Ugo Broussot, Diana Sakalauskaité, Marina Palii and Agathe Bosch.
Their characters seize upon any weakness in anothers' case and rip it apart as if lions preying on a gazelle.
A young countess (Palii) is the most regular victim of the know-it-alls who skewer her sincere belief in good over evil.
However, I found this bathing in dinner-time superiority rather dull.
Only when a letter is read from the military front, sparing no detail of the battle, does it grab and then again, after two hours, there was a sudden diversion from the discussions with unexpected explosive action.
This drama lasted for two minutes. It was completely out of keeping with the rest of the movie and, during the next scene, it is as if it never happened.
So, we go on with the verbal chess, led by people who are so smug and arrogant that I would want to tip their finely-made desserts over their heads.
Some critics have suggested that Cristi Puiu's adaptation of Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov's work should prompt deep thought and conversation.
I am afraid I found it simply tedious.

Reasons to watch: If you what to watch a philosophical debate for three and a half hours
Reasons to avoid: It is just impossible to concentrate on this type of material for so long

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 4/10

Did you know? 
Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (1853 – 1900) was a Russian philosopher, poet, pamphleteer, and literary critic who played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the nineteenth century.

The final word. Cristi Puiu: "People tend to push the film away, to stay at a certain distance—not only this film but cinema in general, looking from afar as if they don’t want to venture inside. When I chose to make a film out of this book by Soloviev, it was because while reading it I had this very strong feeling that he is somehow a dear friend, somebody I would talk about these matters with."Filmmaker


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