Film Review : Paper Solder (Bumazhnyy Soldat)
The New Zealand Film Festival is on at the moment, giving us all the chance to see exciting, stimulating cinema from around the world; and also this film.
Paper Solder is a Russian production set in the weeks before the launch of Yuri Gagarin's famous day trip. The story focuses on Daniel, the medical officer in charge of monitoring the cosmonauts as they prepare for the launch. The stress of the job (and a complicated personal life) is getting to him and he grows erratic as the big day approaches.
The big problem with Paper Solder is that it has no defined plot. Events occur, but there is no sequence to them. In fact for the first half hour I thought that the film was setting up the story with a series of lengthy non-linear flashbacks before I realized I was mistaken. I found myself wondering if the English translation was a rush job. A lot of the conversations (Paper Solder is a talky film) seem kind of pointless, but that may just be me. It doesn't help that the English subtitles are often unreadable against the wintery Russian landscapes.
I think the film is actually about the state of Russia during the 60s (which to be fair probably did suck), and a lot of the plot is metaphoric. But that doesn't make it any more interesting to watch. The one good thing about Paper Solder is the photography and direction - the film looks amazing. Its just a shame that the clever camera isn't pointing at anything interesting.
Not really recommended except for dedicated followers of Russian history.