The Student Screen 6 articles

The Student

2016

The Student Poster
  • When I first saw The Student at Cannes in 2016, it seemed to be a pretty effective allegory of the slow slide towards religious authoritarianism in Russia. But over the ensuing year or so, the film started to feel less like a metaphor and more like a prophecy. . . . Watching it again now, I don’t see a movie about Russia anymore. I see a movie about the nightmare we’re all currently living in.

  • There is a theatricality to the film that can feel a little overbearing at times – it’s hard to sympathise with the grandstanding central character – but this is forceful and provocative film-making.

  • The film featured a bitter condemnation of the social conservatism that forms the ideological buttress for Putin’s rule, but in the end retained overly heavy traces of its theatrical origins, and was particularly marred by the unnecessary didacticism involved in repeatedly showing the Bible passages in on-screen titles.

  • As I write I’ve seen 18 films, at least four of which are top quality, and only one amongst the rest a real dud (Student, a sensation-seeking Russian film about a teenager who funnels his hormonal feelings into manic bible-quoting Christian zealotry – and even that has its supporters).

  • There was a time when scores of defiant adolescents asserted intellectual independence from their parents by turning their backs on religion. In this more agnostic age, picking up the Bible can be just as startling an act of rebellion in many households. So it proves in Kirill Serebrennikov’s splendid “The Student,” a stormy, swoon-inducingly shot bout of Russian moral wrestling that hits as hard and as heavily as a nastoyka hangover.

  • It represents a qualitative leap forward for Kirill Serebrennikov... Although it’s not quite in the same majestic league as compatriot Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan, which played in competition at Cannes two years ago, this Un Certain Regard entry still nobly flies an anti-clerical flag, while also providing a taut, combustible drama.

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