Directed by Yury Bykov
The Fool is a movie about a simple plumber. An honest man, he is up against an entire system of corrupted bureaucrats. At stake are the lives of 800 inhabitants of an old dorm that is at risk of collapsing within the span of the night.
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★★★★ review by Lance on Letterboxd
"We live like animals and die like animals because we're nobodies to each other."
The shot when Dima dashes outside and looks up and sees a 9-story crack in the apartment building is one of the most thrilling moments in cinema.
A desperate movie about a desperate society.
★★★★½ review by James Reynov on Letterboxd
Man this movie is heavy. If art is supposed to be a reflection of life, then life in modern Russia is so so awfully hopeless, and it's not helping itself improve at all. This movie, more heavy-handed and depressing than Leviathan, is another biting film against the Russia government, and the corruption found in its bureaucracy. I'm sure if you told the director of this film that good things happen to good people or the fact that karma exists, I'm he would probably laugh in your face. The film takes place over the course of one night, as Dmitry tries to warn everyone about how a run-down residential building is going to collapse within twenty-four hours. It's a really well made film with a bunch of long takes and tracking shots that are impressive and look great. The acting is really good as well, but sometimes can be over the top. Overall though, this film is really really good. I love films that take place over the course of one night or a day, and this one is great in that regard, but it also asks a really really important question is how to be good in a corrupt world? By letting the corruption run it's normal way of life through everyone, or try to change it by doing good? And if you thought that it was the latter, you're in for it.
★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
What I wrote about Bykov's previous film, The Major, applies equally here:
One of the most deeply cynical movies I've ever seen, the moral of which is essentially that every effort to do the right thing not only fails but makes things much worse. [...] I watch plenty of depressing films, but it's rare for one to inspire this degree of sheer hopelessness.
Not sure why I slightly prefer The Fool, because it's considerably more didactic, stopping cold at least three times for extended monologues detailing the city's precise chain of corruption. Maybe it's just the catharsis of a protagonist who stubbornly refuses to prioritize self-interest at the expense of other people's lives. In both films, though, Bykov takes care to avoid facile villainy, depicting horrible acts as the inevitable result of numerous small moral failures, made by people who aren't inherently evil but have dug themselves holes they can't see any other way out of. Especially loved Natalya Surkova as the mayor, who keeps trying to be human until she finally concludes that doing so would entail signing her own death warrant; rarely does one see an actor explore so many levels of weary resignation.
★★★★ review by Reystleen on Letterboxd
You have to live in Russia to fully understand this movie. Good one!
★★★★★ review by Chris Hormann on Letterboxd
AKA Nobody's Russian to fix that building.
The perfect companion piece to last year's Leviathan, this is a story of corruption and self-interest in a Russian town which destroys any notion of community as local officials try to find any excuse not to spend money on a patently unsafe building with 800 residents. Vicious in its satire of the local government hierarchy as they move from a willingness to act which changes as money enters the equation. The only honest person in this tale is Dima (played by Heath Ledger lookalike Artyom Bystrov) who tries to bring his community to action but is thwarted by the local officials, the community and even his family.
Powerful and compelling and proof that Russian cinema is enjoying a golden age.
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