×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sonny

When a teenage boy is implicated in a murder, his father pulls out all the stops to clear his name in "Sonny."

With:
With: Viktor Sukhorukov, Oleg Frolenkov, Oleg Bokhan, Evgenia Simonova, Ksenia Surkova, Yuri Kiselev, Alexander Isaev.

When a teenage boy is implicated in a murder, his overprotective father pulls out all the stops to clear his name in the Russian drama “Sonny.” Despite the film’s strong emphasis on complex character relationships, its flat, uninspired shooting style makes it easy to overlook, and confirms that writer-helmer Larissa Sadilova (“Nothing Personal”) is stronger at screenwriting than directing. Were this script in French and in the hands of, say, Claude Chabrol, something terrific and properly commercial might have resulted; as is, “Sonny” will remained orphaned on the fest circuit and reap, at best, only niche biz domestically.

Set in the mid-sized Russian town of Trubchevska (where the film was also shot), the plot revolves around the sub-nuclear family of museum docent Igor Smirnov (character actor Viktor Sukhorukov, a regular in Alexei Balabanov’s pics) and his 16-year-old son Andrei (Oleg Frolenkov). Left by his wife years ago to bring up his son alone, fussy worrier Igor smothers Andrei with unwanted attention.

When lovely teenage hitchhiker Rita (Ksenia Surkova) drifts through town, Andrei is tempted to run away with her. On the day they take off, he and Rita are spotted driving an expensive SUV owned by a wealthy local businessman, whose corpse has just been found. A substantial pile of cash is also missing.

The police immediately finger Andrei as the murderer, and before long, local reporters are fanning the flames of suspicion. Even Andrei’s best friend Gosha (Oleg Bokhan), a paraplegic, has his doubts about Andrei’s innocence. Only Igor steadfastly insists his son is no killer.

Alternating action with flashbacks, the film gradually reveals what actually happened and more, but the murder mystery and a mild indictment of tabloid-press mentality are much less the point here than the characters’ interpersonal relationships. There’s more going on than meets the eye at first, not just between Andrei and Igor but also between Andrei and Gosha. Such subtlety is a familiar tool in Sadilova’s arsenal, as is her ability to draw fine perfs from her thesps. Sukhorukov’s work is particularly sterling throughout, although the non-pros rounding out the cast are also impressive.

It’s a shame, then, that the drab lensing (by Dmitri Mishin) and clunky editing (Anton Chuviev ) make the pic look like an ordinary, straight-to-cable procedural. Also, someone on the production team should have been advised that filming characters from just beyond doorways or through barred gates over and over again to suggest psychological imprisonment was a trite device the first time, let alone the sixth or seventh.

Sonny

Russia

Production: An Arsi-Film production. (International sales: Arsi-Film, Moscow.) Produced by Rustam Akhadov. Directed, written by Larisaa Sadilova.

Crew: Camera (color), Dmitri Mishin; editor, Anton Chuviev; music, Ahmad Bakaev; production designer, Azamat Tyraev; costume designer, Manzura Uldzhabayeva; sound (Dolby Digital), Rustam Akhadov. Reviewed at Sochi Open Russian Film Festival (competing), June 12, 2009. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: With: Viktor Sukhorukov, Oleg Frolenkov, Oleg Bokhan, Evgenia Simonova, Ksenia Surkova, Yuri Kiselev, Alexander Isaev.

More Film

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives. PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” More Reviews Film Review: 'The Quake' Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule' “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

  • Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, ‘The Realm,’

    ‘The Realm,’ ‘Champions,’ Cruz and Bardem Among Spanish Academy Goya Nominations

    MADRID — Spain’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today the nominees for the 33rdedition of the Goya Awards, to be held at the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones in Sevilla on Feb. 2, 2019. Leading the pack with 13 nominations is Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s ultra-current political thriller “The Realm,” which impressed in San [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content