Andrey Nekrasov’s docu “Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File” reps a ponderous, self-indulgent cri de coeur from the helmer, a friend of the former Russian security service agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned last November in London. Pic adds nothing new to public knowledge about the case, and Nekrasov makes it as much about himself as about Litvinenko and the tense political situation in Russia today. Unlikely to be screened openly where President Putin rules, pic might find takers in former Soviet bloc countries. Docu helmer Jos de Putter’s “In Memoriam Alexander Litvinenko” covers similar material in half the time, offering better context.
Alternating footage of Litvinenko and other interviewees with film and broadcast clips and personal digressions, Nekrasov confusingly explores a series of charges against the Russian president, including unsolved murders of opposition figures and journalists and money laundering. A short interview with Andrey Lugovoi, recently named by Britain as the Litvinenko murder suspect, provides a light moment when Lugovoi offers the helmer a cup of tea that he firmly refuses.
Pic was reviewed at Cannes under the title “Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case.”