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Nostalghia (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on March 20, 2013

I’ve been putting this off.  Not because I didn’t want to see it again, but because I knew it would be a sonofabitch to write about.  And here I sit, not sure how to do this review.  I was tempted to break my tradition of writing up everything I watch, but I’m a slave to habit.  What’s up with that?  Other bloggers don’t do that, they write when they have something meaningful to say.  Does it not “count” as having watched it if there isn’t proof on the internet?  Do I feel I’m letting readers down?  Am I just a compulsive personality?  I’m messed up, folks.  This is why I’m in therapy.

And still I’m dodging the review.  I’ll be honest, I don’t much get this movie.  I think I comprehended it even less this time than the first time.  I understand that a lot of it has to do with loneliness and yearning for the homeland and existential isolation.  The poet, Andrei (Oleg Yankovsky), is a man out of step, in a land he doesn’t particularly want to be in, researching the life of another who didn’t want to be there.  The madman, Domenico (Erland Josephson), is also out of step, for the obvious reasons.  The two understand each other… but only in tenuous ways.  In this world, no one truly understands another.  I think I get the whole of the film more than the different pieces.

I have to admit that what I love most is the vibe of the movie.  The incredibly patient pacing.  The slow dolly shots and pans, placing characters impossibly on both sides on a shot.  The eloquent dream/memory sequences.  The consistently gorgeous and poetic imagery, loaded with symbols (many of which are lost on me).  The environments, reminiscent of Stalker.  And the one-two-three punch of the ending… Josephson in the square, Yankovsky in the bath, and that amazingly magical, evocative final image.  Tarkovsky sure knew how to end a movie.  It’s stunning.

But like the fog and steam that often shrouds the scenery, the meanings of individual moments and speeches and sights are hazy to me.  In many ways, I enjoy a film I don’t quite understand.  It definitely makes me want to watch it again.  But it can also be frustrating, or tedious.  And so — while it remains my favorite Tarkovsky behind Stalker — I have to knock down my score a few points.  But I’m not done with it, I’ll be back to try to crack this nut again someday.  Rating: Very Good (86)


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