Come and See

Come and See ★★★★★

Absolutely harrowing. A carnival of increasingly hysterical nightmare imagery rendered with fantastical, apocalyptic weight and crafted by some of the most talented people ever to take on a project of this scale. The cinematography is impeccable, drawing the audience in with serene long takes and unnerving close-ups, the editing is bold and stark, the performances distinct and shockingly human for such an unforgiving film – in particular, Aleksei Kravchenko as the young protagonist gives what I think is one of the greatest performances I have ever seen in a film, no exaggeration. His work here is gripping and unglamorous, tethering the insanity around him to something definite and real for the audience to latch on to, and the fact that he was only thirteen years old when production started just makes his ability to communicate this character’s growth (or rather devolution) from carefree kid to traumatized veteran all the more impressive.

Much like Apocalypse Now this is not so much an anti-war film as it is an exploration of how war reveals the ugliest and most absurd contradictions in the human psyche, allowing us to justify unimaginable evil while clinging to a façade of saneness and respectability, a façade that is absolutely shattered by the time Come and See reaches its final moments. In the afterglow of watching it images of extreme horror and beauty mingle together, wrestling in the subconscious, but the film remains steadfast in its morality; there are no winners in a conflict like this, only the living and the dead, and whatever can be salvaged will speak for itself.

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