Nostalgia ★★★★★

Nostalgia, repeatedly cited as the first feature Andrei Tarkovsky shot outside of his native Soviet Union, sadly additionally proved to be his penultimate film. The filmmaker, renowned for his uniquely expressive style, chose to shoot his first feature during his exile in Italy as well as in Italian before shooting his ultimate feature, The Sacrifice, in Sweden in 1986 before passing away the same year aged 54.

It's an intriguing film that demonstrates itself more as a curiosity store than a narrative film, filled with fascinating concepts, perceptions and captivating visuals. The plot chronicles the excursion to Italy of a Russian writer, Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovsky), to investigate the background of 18th-century Russian composer Pavel Sosnovsky, who dwelled there before committing suicide after briefly returning to Russia. 

Accompanied by an interpreter, Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano), Gorchakov becomes virtually entirely consumed by his subject. As he did with Solaris, Tarkovsky uses cinematic sepia-toned sequences to convey memories, fantasies and dreams. However, unlike that science fiction art drama, there isn't any unwavering concept or idea that fastens the film's overall structure together. At times, the tale drifts off into what borders on being a dream-like chimaera.

Tarkovsky was progressively more susceptible to the possibilities of idiomatic expressionism within the medium of film, continually making efforts to transcend its textual limits to more squarely conjure a comprehensive spectrum of consciousness. It's these qualities, along with his extraordinary skill at composition, that gives his films, and this is no exception, much of their autonomous and persistent beauty.

The film unavoidably draws comparisons with his 1975 film The Mirror in the way that it eventually forsakes a formal plot structure entirely. Instead, it tries to recreate a state of mind after Andrei meets a man called Domenico (Erland Josephson), who has a preoccupation with a mineral pool and a desire to save the world. Escorted by unusual story ingredients that infuse its parts together, it is, for the most part, expressly preoccupied with quandaries about memories, fears and spiritual voids that manifests as a voyage into existential alienation.

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