Medea (2021) Locarno Film Festival

August 9th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Alexander Zelkovich; Cast: Tinatin Dalakisvili, Evgeniy Tsyganov, Evgwnii Kharitonov, Yotam Kushnir, Gay Kelly; Russia 2021, 139 min.

Georgian supermodel Tinatin Dalakisvili – who is constantly taking her clothes off – is the star of this Russian take on Medea a big screen bonkbuster brought down by a clumsy script: Zelkovich uses a confessional to drive the spare narrative forward, laced with some unintentionally awkward home-spun philosophies

Life for the chemistry graduate revolves around her family, kids Misha and Yulia, and their Jewish father Alexei (Tsyganov), a business man who spends most of the time with his lover Nadya and their child.

Keen to escape the strictures of this dual existence, Alexei decides to settle in Israel, and wants to take his lover and the two children with him. But his plans are put on hold by Nadya’s security service agent brother Valera (Kushnir), who has some dirt on Alexei, and wants a big pay-off before he lets his sister and Alexei go.

Valera makes a big mistake when he reveals his plan, and it will cost him his life. Meanwhile in Israel, Alexei soon tires of the mother of his children, falling for his blonde neighbour. But his lust for women doesn’t stop there. An affair with a graffiti artist (Kelly) is next, then a soldier (Kushnir) in the Israeli secret service, who wants to die for the country, will follow. The end is brilliantly executed (like many of the scenes), but the running time is far too generous for what little Zelkovich has to say.

This Medea is a wild opportunist: she endangers her children in a concrete silo, saves their lives when the police give chase to a terrorist, and sets fire to a model on a roof terrace  Overwhelming images drown out the threadbare narrative leaving us with eye candy. In trying to be mainstream, Zelkovich has squandered some good ideas. AS



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