Saturday, June 22, 2019

Leto - Movie Review

The Movie: Leto

The Director: Kirill Serebrennikov

The Cast: Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk

The Story: A love triangle emerges around a rock and roll musician, his protege and his wife in 1980s Russia.

The Review:
The history of Russian rock as it emerged from 1980's culture is a topic that has seldom been explored so to see it done in such a uniquely stylized manner was a very interesting treat. Director Kirill Serebrennikov focuses on the relationship between budding rock icon Viktor Tsoi and Mayk Vassilievitch Naumenko, a more established star of the time. Naumenko mentors Tsoi and help him to navigate the political hurdles involved with trying to have a music career within the confines of Russian rule.

The movie is filmed in black and white which helps to place it in the time period but I also feel like this was an intentional move by Serebrennikov so that he could fill the story with a stylization that adds a sort of hyper reality where he can embellish truths and exaggerate moments with a sort of tongue in cheek humor that is perfect for this type of story. I mean, Rock and Roll is sort of its own reality filled with legendary tales and that can't be true stories that help to catapult artists to iconic status so of course this would be very appropriate in recreating the foundation for what would become known as "Kinomania",  label given to the rabid popularity of Kino, the band Tsoi helped to create.

There is also a love triangle story involving Tsoi and Naumenko's which blends in nicely with the rest of the story leaving it to add a layer of depth to the overall narrative and frenetic nature of the rock star's rise to fame. Serebrennikov fills the film with a political commentary that is  mainly about the difficulties an artist would face trying to gain footing in a culture dominated by the government endorsed Moscow pop stars of the time. Overall, the story is very well put together and sheds light on and important piece of rock history that we my otherwise have never had a chance to see.

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