Mother and Son

3 / 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars.
Cert U

Not for the first time, Russian director Alexander Sokurov is set to divide the viewers. To some, this will be an eloquent, poignant representation of a relationship; others will probably find it mawkish and inert. The relationship between Alexei Ananischov's son and Gudrun Geyer's apparently dying mother is all tenderness. It emphasises the reversal of a filial relationship to the stage when the child becomes the protector and stresses the duo's isolation amid huge, lowering Russian skies, wild nature, mist and swirling winds.

It's a virtual dissertation on the human condition and heightens its unworldliness with distorted visuals, which didn't work for me - at times it looks like the bad old days of pan-and-scan transfer. But there's no doubting its sincerity and like its fellow member of a trilogy, Father and Son (about another duo cut off from the world and actually made six years later but preceding it on DVD), and Sokurov's tour de force, the amazing one-shot Russian Ark, it's an intensely personal film.