This is a wonderful film for many reasons. The cinematography showing the beautiful Russian countryside and idyllic family life is one strength of the film. The quality of the acting, and particularly of the child is very impressive. Where it really strikes home is in the blend of humour, gaiety and impending tragedy colliding together, with the menacing undertones and threat always present throughout the film, but only apparent at the end. This is in many ways a black comedy with pathos, and the ability to leave you feeling angst ridden at its conclusion, knowing that the story represents the experience of so many real lives.
Essentially a retired War Hero finds himself out of favour with Stalin. Whilst engrossed in his idyllic and happy family life we have hints of the impending danger which will see him collected by the former childhood lover of his much younger wife, who a visiting dandy, works for the NKVD. This charming character reveals his true intentions slowly, and one cannot help but share a feeling of helplessness as the precious moments of freedom and life, tick away, as he informs the General of his impending arrest.
The Generals departure in front of his family is with stoicism and the brave face of a military man, and the leaving scene with his child is very poignant.
This is a wonderful film, and the black comedy makes the subject matter somehow more bearable, without compromising the real sense of pathos and haunting sadness it left me with. I would well recommend this film. It touches a grave matter with a lightness of touch, but this should not be mistaken for light hearted.It is the small poignant moments which really testify to the tragic nature of the storyline.