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East-West

Director:Regis Wargnier
Writers:Roustam Ibraguimbek, Sergei Bodrov, Louis Gardel, and Regis Wargnier
Sony Pictures Classics; PG-13; 115 minutes
Release:4/00
Cast:Sandrine Bonnaire, Oleg Menchikov, Catherine Deneuve

From the land of baguettes and berets comes East-West, an epic historical drama about Stalinism and liberty. In 1946, Joseph Stalin kindly invited Russian expatriates to rejoin the motherland. Upon their return, they were summarily interrogated and executed. The lucky ones ended up in overcrowded communal housing.

East/West takes on this little-known aspect of Soviet history. The film revolves around Marie (Sandrine Bonnaire), a French woman married to the native Aleksei (Oleg Menchikov). As a foreigner, she's treated like a second-class citizen, and her husband sticks close to party line to avoid further persecution. Struggling for escape, Marie takes on a rebellious swimmer (Segei Bodrov, Jr.) as her lover. Movement unfolds with the stiff-limbs of a silver screen giant waking up after a four decade slumber. Orchestral bombast fills the air. The tragic heroine, desperate for repatriation, seeks assistance from a visiting French diva (the iconic Catherine Deneuve).


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