Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2021: Our Review of ‘Reflection’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies by - October 30, 2021
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2021: Our Review of ‘Reflection’

Serhiy (Roman Lutskyi) probably already knows that war is hell, but Valentyn Vasyanovych’s Reflection exposes him to its horror shows as he, an urbanite Ukrainian doctor, signs up to reclaim the territory that the Donetsk People’s Republic has claimed for themselves. The suspiciously Russian speaking officers in Donetsk capture him. They coerce him into participating and witnessing acts that probably break the Geneva Convention. For example, burning bodies and ensuring that the people that the officers (including Ihor Shulha) torture don’t die. Reflection depicts this section of his life in the film’s second of four acts, the officers releasing him to Ukraine in exchange of their own prisoners. But the film’s second half then depicts his struggles to live for at least a few months in his life. And it does so through these almost symmetrical wide shots, providing distance from the people experiencing their own daily horrors.

One of Reflection‘s major plot points involve Serhiy’s friend Andrii (Andriy Romanuk), who basically disappears the same time as he does. The Donetsk officers separate them and it takes a while for the film to answer the Andrii question. The cageyness about that can be frustrating, and it ties into the film’s decision to shoot everything wide. It never shows the faces of the Ukrainian POWs. This adds to the dehumanization that the Donetsk officers inflict on the side that the film theoretically is on. As I write that, there’s a commendable polish here even during the second act that depicts the prison. If anything, the film’s third and fourth acts also examine Serhiy’s relationship with his daughter Polina (Nika Myslytska). Their scenes are a mix of the bourgeois and spartan. And the film also examines the changing allegiances of characters living in a nation’s relationship with itself.

Buy tickets to Reflection here.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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