A Russian war vet returns from Chechnya and sets off on a redemptive journey accompanied by two friendly soldier ghosts in "Alive." Sophomore foray by helmer Alexander Veledinsky starts out OK with sympathetic characters, but loses its way in the mawkish third act that's reliant on a vastly overused plot twist.

A Russian war vet (Andrei Chadov) returns from Chechnya and sets off on a redemptive journey accompanied by two friendly soldier ghosts in “Alive.” Sophomore foray by helmer Alexander Veledinsky (“Russkoe”) starts out OK with sympathetic characters, but loses its way in the mawkish third act that’s reliant on a vastly overused plot twist. Topical subject should ensure pic a living at local box offices, and a happy ancillary afterlife, but few wings offshore.

When young grunt Kir (Andrei Chadov) gets back from the war minus half a leg, all the thanks he gets is a crappy prosthetic and a derisory sum in compensation. Incensed and suffering from shellshock, he kills a bureaucrat and sets off for Moscow, but has a road accident en route. When he wakes up, fallen comrades Nikich (Maxim Lagashkin) and Igor (Vladimir Epifantsev) are there to help him, as much as they can given they’re now just wisecracking spirits. Although pic makes laudable points about the Russian state’s neglect of returning soldiers, introduction of a Russian priest (Alexei Chadov, the lead’s brother) near end adds sickly religious overtone. Tech credits are competent.

Alive

Russia

Production

A Pygmalion Film Co., KVID Film Co. production, with participation of Russia's Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography. (International sales: Pygmalion Film Co., Moscow.) Produced by Sergei Chliyants. Directed by Alexander Veledinsky. Screenplay, Igor Porubliov, Veledinsky.

Crew

Camera (color), Pavel Ignatov; music, Alexei P Zubarev; art directors, Eduard Galkin, Sergei Tyrin; costumes, Galkin. Reviewed at Open Russian Film Festival (competing), Sochi, June 11, 2006. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Andrei Chadov, Maxim Lagashkin, Vladimir Epifantsev, Olga Arntgolts, Victoria Smirnova, Alexei Chadov.

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