Review: The Aviator of Kazbek (2009)


The Aviator of Kazbek (2009)

Directed by: Ineke Smits | 112 minutes | drama | Actors: Madelief Blanken, Zura Jgenti, Kakha Kintsurashvili, Jack Wouterse, Anamaria Marinca, Peter Lohmeyer, Sylvia Poorta, Sallie Harmsen, Lasha Bakradze, Dato Roinishvili, Rick Paul van Mulligen, Zura Jgenti

In the Dutch war drama ‘The Aviator of Kazbek’, two experienced artists join forces for the fourth time. Directed by Ineke Smits and with a screenplay by the much-praised and widely read Arthur Japin, this is a film from which you expect a lot in advance. That expectation is not being fulfilled.

Big culprit is the messy script. Kazbek’s Aviator is about a lot, a lot. About the need for hope and imagination, the liberation of women, churchgoers and Georgians, about growing up in wartime, about homesickness, about film, about dancing through life, about ars moriendi and about language as friend and foe. This mishmash of motifs produces a mishmash of scenes that never form a coherent whole. Characters remain flat, there is hardly any tension and due to the many changes in perspective, bone-dry scenes are alternated with childish fantasies.

The dialogues are a different story. Sentences that might still work in a book or in the formal setting of a play turn out to be out of place here. Artificial and pompous sentences, conveying thoughts you would not expect from these simple characters. And because those sentences are so artificial and old-fashioned, they never come naturally from the mouths of the actors.

While the film is a well-intentioned mess in the first hour, it completely derails in the last half hour. Then the actions of the characters become increasingly curious and the sentiment is bizarrely pushed down the viewer’s throat. Then the strikingly present music really starts to disappoint.

‘The Aviator of Kazbek’ can’t do much against this. There are some tense verbal showsdowns between the Georgian and German captains, exciting because the interpreter plays a cunning role here. There is also a beautiful Georgian song, and some nice visual games. It’s not enough to keep the viewer engaged. So that we can only hope that the next collaboration between Japin and Smits will be a lot stronger than this silly film.

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