An Ordinary Execution [une Execution Ordinaire]

"Excellent"

An Ordinary Execution [une Execution Ordinaire] Review


With a thoughtful and introspective tone, this film continually surprises us as its story unfurls and a young doctor's life takes a strange and portentous turn, colliding with one of history's most notorious figures.

In 1952 Stalin (Dussollier) "purges" the Kremlin of what he thinks are evil Jewish doctors. But he continues to get ill, so he has Dr Anna Atlina (Hands) brought to treat him. She's shocked at meeting the infamous premier, especially as he's heard she has a magnetic power in her hands. She helps alleviate his pain, and as she leaves he threatens her with execution if she ever tells anyone. Her entire life changes bewilderingly as a result, and she never knows when Stalin will summon her next.

Told completely from Anna's point of view, first-time filmmaker Dugain infuses the movie with real life. Anna and her scientist husband Vassili (Baer) clearly enjoy trying to get pregnant (the neighbours actually complain), and they visit Anna's mother (Benoit) and scruffy Uncle Anton (Segal) for an awkward weekend in the country. Their life is plagued by the everyday struggles of Soviet Russia, and then things take a nightmarish turn for both of them as Anna secretly enters this shadowy world at the very pinnacle of power.

The realities of life in 1950s Moscow are conveyed with an almost offhanded quality that quietly blends both humour and terror with matter-of-fact honesty.

At Anna's office, no one understands how it can be that she's arrested one day and back at work the next day. And since we so quickly get to know the characters, where these events take them is surprising and often deeply disturbing. All of this is performed expertly by the actors, who beautifully underplay the characters to make us feel the ramifications of each increasingly chilling situation.

This deeply personal film is so cleverly well written, directed and acted that we can't pry ourselves from the screen. It's low on action and heavy on dark, often gloomy drama, but by letting us experience these events through Anna's eyes, these encounters with Stalin take on an almost mythical quality. And their growing relationship, as laced with mistrust as it is, is simply fascinating to watch.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Marc Dugain

Producer:

Starring: as Anna, as Vassilli, Denis Podalydès as Le concierge, as Joseph Staline

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.