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Coup De Grāce (Criterion Collection) back to product details

Quiet Intensity
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written by metamorphmuses December 17, 2004 - 2:41 AM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Coup de Grace is set in the days of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (1917), and depicts the relationship between an intelligent Russian woman and a polished German officer. In the midst of vast societal, cultural and historical forces -- such as would echo and culminate in the 20s, 30s and well through the Second World War -- two individuals collide, finding in each other many differences and yet somehow certain powerful affinities. The narrative peels away, rather than explicitly reveals, the inner lives of the two main characters and the relationship between them. Coup de Grace is largely a quiet, subdued work, however, it achieves masterfully distilled moments of drama, particularly in its denouement. While the film is committed to an impassive point of view, it nevertheless invites the audience to witness the characters' personal and inter-personal development in relation to the larger context. Thus, the film identifies culture, gender, class, and war as determining factors in the characters' profiles, but shows the characters actively engaged with the bigger picture, rather than just swept along passively in the events surrounding them. Conversely, the viewers see the larger course of events through the lens of the characters' motivations and actions, rather than just as an epic backdrop against which the characters act. In keeping with the film's overall tone, the cinematography pursues an understated black and white look. With different levels of black and white contrast, and varying degrees of sharpness versus graininess, the choice of images strikingly conveys the mood of the story. Shots are coldly bleak and distant for the harsh reality of war and civil strife, but warm and (relatively) intimate for the psychological and inter-personal scenes.

12345678910

(Average 5.45)
33 Votes
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