The North Wind – And Then She Became Wicked

REVIEW
by Sandra Kuznetsova
27.02.2021
On February 1st, 2021, the premiere of Renata Litvinova's new film The North Wind (2020) took place. She is a director, screenwriter, producer, and, of course, the actress of the main role. At this point, in principle, you can finish the article about this film because everyone has already understood what to expect from it. But I'll continue anyway.
Initially, it was a play of the same name, written by Litvinova herself, and was performed in 2017 on the stage of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater. However, the film is not an adaptation. The play also included performances of those actors who took the main roles in the film, but the setting there was somewhat different — a large Soviet family with strange names, whose diamonds are buried in a frozen chest in the garden, celebrates the New Year one year after another and we observe their tragic history.

In the film, the action takes place in an unknown place, somewhere in the Northern Fields in fictional time. There are fewer active characters and only one main line is left. But most of all, comparing to the play, it's the visual concept that has changed. The team of Renata Litvinova and Demna Gvasalia(the creative director of Balenciaga and co-founder of Vetements) with some help from other Russian designers as well, has created something of a Gothic fairy tale.
There is a Northern clan the power of which belongs to women. And each of them is strong and independent, but at the same time they all "lived in anticipation of love". However, so far, only Benedict, the son of the main character Margarita (played, of course, by Litvinova herself), finds love. Fanny (Ulyana Dobrovskaya, Litvinova's daughter) is a perfect match for Benedict (Anton Shagin), although the story of their acquaintance is too indecently fabulous and naive. On New Year's Eve, she wishes that Benedict loved only her, "until death and after death". She works as a flight attendant and has to leave soon after the New Year celebration. Benedict is reluctant to let Fanny go, but she is adamant, and he makes the fatal mistake of letting her fly away.

From now on, everything goes wrong. The fields with buried money chests are rotting, the house is falling into disrepair, and relations between family members are heating up. Everything is resolved, however, quite predictably. But because of the costumes, the scenery, specific speeches, music, and, in general, the incredible charming atmosphere, it is difficult to break away. The North Wind is the quintessence of everything that Renata Litvinova represents. Mystery, fabulousness, softness along with the danger, likewise cat paws, some kind of constant role-playing game.
It's an incredibly beautiful, mesmerizing movie, but for the most part, that's all that this film has. Litvinova, of course, is a great director, with her unusual vision, but at the same time she tries to be simultaneously a screenwriter, an actor and a producer... She makes movies for herself and about herself, so this all is, of course, not surprising, but in this way she is too fixated on herself and does not make sure that the flights of her thoughts are clear to the audience.
In all her previous films [Goddess: How I Fell in Love (2004), Rita's Last Fairy Tale (2012)], there are unnecessary details, plot holes and generally questions arise about the logic in her fairy tales. This misfortune did not avoid 'the North Wind'. Well, the members of the Northern Clan have an extra thirteenth – or the twenty-fifth, as we would call it – hour. But what does it give them? They seem to have completely forgotten about it and do not use it in the plot. Margarita is constantly waiting for a phone call from someone, and this is a rather strange detail, since then it results in ...nothing. Whatever happens in the end. It is also unclear what happened with the passage of time and the laws of nature. Marguerite's grandson has grown up, but she has hardly changed... Although, perhaps, she was just well preserved because of alcohol.

In all this there is a kind of Bulgakov atmosphere, and it's not even the name of the main character. Something mysterious is happening, but you are not given any explanation for it. Although, perhaps, someone will think that this is even more intriguing.
An interesting moment – in the film there is a moment when Margarita invites a famous opera singer to perform at one of the New Year celebrations. This scene may remind you of something from a famous movie about saving the Earth...
With all this, this North Wind is really better than many Russian films for the mass audience and it is better that people prefer it. This film (almost) does not relate to the reality around us, for which a special 'thank you' can be said to it . There is nothing particularly new in it, if you were already familiar with the work of Litvinova before. But there is music from Zemfira, the clink of champagne glasses and permanent New Year parties. What else do you need for a pleasant time?
 
The North Wind – And Then She Became Wicked

REVIEW
by Sandra Kuznetsova
27.02.2021
On February 1st, 2021, the premiere of Renata Litvinova's new film The North Wind (2020) took place. She is a director, screenwriter, producer, and, of course, the actress of the main role. At this point, in principle, you can finish the article about this film because everyone has already understood what to expect from it. But I'll continue anyway.
Initially, it was a play of the same name, written by Litvinova herself, and was performed in 2017 on the stage of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater. However, the film is not an adaptation. The play also included performances of those actors who took the main roles in the film, but the setting there was somewhat different — a large Soviet family with strange names, whose diamonds are buried in a frozen chest in the garden, celebrates the New Year one year after another and we observe their tragic history.

In the film, the action takes place in an unknown place, somewhere in the Northern Fields in fictional time. There are fewer active characters and only one main line is left. But most of all, comparing to the play, it's the visual concept that has changed. The team of Renata Litvinova and Demna Gvasalia(the creative director of Balenciaga and co-founder of Vetements) with some help from other Russian designers as well, has created something of a Gothic fairy tale.
There is a Northern clan the power of which belongs to women. And each of them is strong and independent, but at the same time they all "lived in anticipation of love". However, so far, only Benedict, the son of the main character Margarita (played, of course, by Litvinova herself), finds love. Fanny (Ulyana Dobrovskaya, Litvinova's daughter) is a perfect match for Benedict (Anton Shagin), although the story of their acquaintance is too indecently fabulous and naive. On New Year's Eve, she wishes that Benedict loved only her, "until death and after death". She works as a flight attendant and has to leave soon after the New Year celebration. Benedict is reluctant to let Fanny go, but she is adamant, and he makes the fatal mistake of letting her fly away.

From now on, everything goes wrong. The fields with buried money chests are rotting, the house is falling into disrepair, and relations between family members are heating up. Everything is resolved, however, quite predictably. But because of the costumes, the scenery, specific speeches, music, and, in general, the incredible charming atmosphere, it is difficult to break away. The North Wind is the quintessence of everything that Renata Litvinova represents. Mystery, fabulousness, softness along with the danger, likewise cat paws, some kind of constant role-playing game.

It's an incredibly beautiful, mesmerizing movie, but for the most part, that's all that this film has. Litvinova, of course, is a great director, with her unusual vision, but at the same time she tries to be simultaneously a screenwriter, an actor and a producer... She makes movies for herself and about herself, so this all is, of course, not surprising, but in this way she is too fixated on herself and does not make sure that the flights of her thoughts are clear to the audience.
In all her previous films [Goddess: How I Fell in Love (2004), Rita's Last Fairy Tale (2012)], there are unnecessary details, plot holes and generally questions arise about the logic in her fairy tales. This misfortune did not avoid 'the North Wind'. Well, the members of the Northern Clan have an extra thirteenth – or the twenty-fifth, as we would call it – hour. But what does it give them? They seem to have completely forgotten about it and do not use it in the plot. Margarita is constantly waiting for a phone call from someone, and this is a rather strange detail, since then it results in ...nothing. Whatever happens in the end. It is also unclear what happened with the passage of time and the laws of nature. Marguerite's grandson has grown up, but she has hardly changed... Although, perhaps, she was just well preserved because of alcohol.

In all this there is a kind of Bulgakov atmosphere, and it's not even the name of the main character. Something mysterious is happening, but you are not given any explanation for it. Although, perhaps, someone will think that this is even more intriguing.

An interesting moment – in the film there is a moment when Margarita invites a famous opera singer to perform at one of the New Year celebrations. This scene may remind you of something from a famous movie about saving the Earth...
With all this, this North Wind is really better than many Russian films for the mass audience and it is better that people prefer it. This film (almost) does not relate to the reality around us, for which a special 'thank you' can be said to it . There is nothing particularly new in it, if you were already familiar with the work of Litvinova before. But there is music from Zemfira, the clink of champagne glasses and permanent New Year parties. What else do you need for a pleasant time?
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