The Fool Screen 10 articles

The Fool


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  • The Fool is an unfortunately conventional and at times laughably manipulative bureaucratic melodrama, carefully calibrated for histrionic political discourse and capital-E expressive performances (the film won four awards at Locarno including Best Actor).

  • Although the film could probably dispense with some of its early scenes of Dima dashing around as well as some of the overplayed histrionics of its belatedly confessional bureaucrats, The Fool is an admirable addition to the “one long night” genre (Before Sunrise, Night on Earth, After Hours) – here one night not only of individual uncertainty and futility, but also political corruption and social venality.

  • In both [The Major and The Fool], 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 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.

  • Yuriy Bykov continues to emerge as one of Russia's foremost young filmmakers with The Fool, a morally upright class drama set within a culture that rewards corruption and greed and punishes the honorable and decent. As evinced in his previous work, Bykov treats his narratives like well-oiled machines, the action constantly churning even when things seem uneventful. Some of the film's most charged sequences are nothing more than conversations.

  • If you can accept its unabashed didacticism, The Fool plays crisply. Bykov’s self-effacing shooting style trends toward inconspicuous static and handheld shots that connect the dots between the self-loathing, corrupt officials and the dispossessed citizens they’ve fleeced. The nine floors of the doomed building are a nightmarish microcosm for a nation of delinquent teens, abusive drunks, and the forgotten elderly.

  • Yuriy Bykov’s movie on the surface is another tale of Slavic squalor, full of filthy apartments and no-hope workers. The story line plays as a thriller, however, which helps keep the in-your-face symbolic content from getting too dull (we know, we get it, Putin’s Russia is a cesspool).

  • The Fool is desperately stagy—but then why shouldn’t it be? One of its closest relatives, after all, is An Enemy of the People, Ibsen’s drama about another whistleblower who got no thanks for his social conscience. Yet there’s no denying that The Fool packs a punch, and makes an often gripping watch.

  • Brilliantly shot, this Russian drama addresses the subject of corruption in contemporary provincial life... The performances are uniformly strong, and writer-director Yury Bykov achieves an immersive, starkly realistic atmosphere. Yet the translated dialogue can be punishingly literal, as the officials reflect on how corrupt they are and the hero bemoans his situation of being a moral person in an immoral society.

  • Essentially, The Fool takes the standard We’ve Got 24 Hours to Save This Sucker narrative gambit and turns its underpinning consoling idea of cooperative effort for the greater good inside out... Even in its bleakness, The Fool is extremely satisfying. Bykov, who also wrote the screenplay, orchestrates a superb cast to deliver a devastating portrait of a society hypnotized by the spectacle of its own paralyzing corruption.

  • A fine-tuned, fast-paced film by Yury Bykov... We have here two dramas: a small one in which a frustrated wife (women don’t come off too well here) fights with her uncompromising husband, the other one that, on a larger canvas, is a synecdoche for the way things _don’t_ operate in Russia.

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