Andrey Zvyagintsev • Russia • 2007 • The existential valences of a disintegrating marriage.
Alex’s brother Mark shows up at their door one day with a bullet in his arm. Though he doesn’t reveal where he got it, he needs help removing it, and Alex obliges. Soon, though, Alex decides to take his family to their dacha in the countryside. Surrounded by flowing fields of grain, this relatively tranquil atmosphere is shattered when Alex’s wife, Vera, reveals that she is pregnant yet again, and that the child is not his.
Filmed in long, contemplative compositions and with a masterful use of the long-shot, The Banishment ambitiously explores the human condition amid the existential valences of a disintegrating marriage. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s second film premiered at BFI London, Toronto, and Cannes, where it won Best Actor.