Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Room and a Half

“Of course, we all shared one toilet, one bathroom, and one kitchen. But the kitchen was fairly spacious, the toilet very decent and cozy. As for the bathroom, Russian hygienic habits are such that eleven people would seldom overlap when either taking a bath or doing their basic laundry. The latter hung in the two corridors that connected the rooms to the kitchen, and one knew the underwear of one's neighbors by heart…”
You don't hear much about Joseph Brodsky these days, which is why it is nice to see Andrei Khrzhanovski's A Room and a Half garnering so much attention.  In the movie, Khrzhanovski re-imagines the great poet's youth in the form of a heartfelt retrospective.  Best known as an animator, the director fuses a number of images together into a series of 45 "photographs" in which Brodsky attempts to rebuild his "nest."

It really is marvelous to watch as Khrzhanovski moves seamlessly between sepia tones, B&W, nostalgic color and animation in piecing together these "memories."  He draws as much on Proust as he does Brodsky in this cinematic telling, as if it is all seen through the "magic lamp" of time.  I didn't recognize Alisa Frejndlikh at first, but my wife reminded me she played Kalugina in Office Romance (1977).  Great to see her again, playing Brodsky's mother.

Here's the trailer.

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