East-West Review

Image for East-West

In June 1946, Stalin called on Russian emigrés to return to the Motherland. But of the boatloads who returned, most were imprisoned or killed. A physician and his French wife survive, but remain under constant suspicion as she longs for her homeland.


As Wargnier demonstrated with Indochine (1992), he has a laudable curiousity about neglected periods of history and a storytelling style that, while injudiciously busy and highly traditional, nevertheless manages to ingratiate.

No conceivable misery is denied Sandrine Bonnaire, as she joins doctor husband Oleg Menchikov in accepting Stalin's post-War amnesty for all Russian exiles. The perpetual surveillance, the affair with Serguei Bodrov Jr., the escape bid organised by Catherine Deneuve, and the subsequent incarceration are all utterly predictable.

But the sheer professionalism of the production maintains interest levels. Bonnaire suffers with stellar elegance and Menchikov impresses as the timid opportunist. But they can't dilute the cloying melodramatics.

While the era and sense of history are well conveyed, the outcome is too predictable to hold the attention and convince on a dramatic level. Good performances though.