Oh my. This film is just sooooooo charming, sweet, romantic, heartbreaking and awesome. Plus, it’s not often that I get to watch a movie where I think every minute and every frame is perfect. But that’s really how I feel about this one. The opening shots of Alyosha in the midst of battle followed by that awesome upside-down freeze frame of a tank chasing a lone soldier across the battlefield is just perfect.
The scene where Alyosha asks to go home in lieu of a decoration for his heroism on the battlefield might’ve felt syrupy in a different film but Chukhrai’s touch is so light and every character (even those that appear for barely a minute of the film) feels so real and human that the scene totally works. The initial scenes on the train with the soldiers exchanging jokes and cigarettes totally had me smiling and then by the time Vasya’s (another superb performance) wife comes running across the platform, I am pretty sure I had tears in my eyes. This turned out to be a pattern with this film really. Most of the film is just delightfully smile-inducing and whenever that isn’t the case, the film manages to be so touching and poignant that I barely noticed the transition. Both the leads are absolutely wonderful and adorable.
The ending is really great too. Everything in the film is just completely understated and told without any judgment or preaching, which is so rare in a war film. It’s the kind of film where I started to list the moments that I really loved in the film till I realized that I was basically listing the entire film! Did I mention that it’s visually really gorgeous as well? And I think the score was pretty nice too. It’s not fair that this review has no screenshots of the beautiful Shura and her gorgeous braids.