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'Father and Son': Paternal Perplexity

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 13, 2004; Page WE43

Here was my question for most of this movie: Wha-? I was clueless. Did not understand. Count me among the stupid. Send me in shame to a multiplex where I can watch irony-free, no-thinking-needed blockbusters starring movie stars with big movie-star teeth and happy endings. I deserve no more.

This one is by director Alexander Sokurov, who made the rather wondrous "Russian Ark," so there has to be a great movie in here somewhere. I'm just not the one to evoke it for you. I will say this: The images are mystical, dreamlike and wonderfully luminous. If you don't care to follow scriptwriter Sergei Potepalov's plot, such as it is, if you don't need a clear-eyed, no-questions ride through a drama, you could focus on the cinematography and see how far you go from there.

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An unnamed man (Andrey Schetinin) and his son Aleksey (Aleksey Neymyshev) live together in a rooftop apartment. They spend much of their time naked and rubbing against each other as they talk. (I have no idea what this is about. You tell me. Actually, please don't.) They speak of many things, but nothing you would expect among people who don't live in an art film. I know that Aleksei goes to military school. And that he has a girlfriend. And that his father likes to work out with dumbbells on the roof, with the goofiest heaven-directed smile I have ever seen on a non-institutionalized person. I could say more. Well, no. I couldn't.

FATHER AND SON (Unrated, 84 minutes) --In Russian with subtitles. Contains mature themes. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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