Coupled with an uncompromisingly bloated running time, Sergei Loznitsa’s sedate style of shooting renders this account of civil unrest in Kiev disengaging.
by Dave O’Flanagan
After In The Fog, Sergei Loznitsa’s latest film is a chronicle of the civil unrest against the regime of president Yanukovych in Kiev in the winter of 2013/2014. Chronicle is the operative word here because while Loznitsa’s film will be an important account and record of the unrest in years to come – it just doesn’t make for very good cinema. While the topic couldn’t be more compelling or relevant, it’s in the delivery of the story that the film founders. Often fixing on one vista with a static shot lasting up to 5 minutes at a time, Loznitsa’s focus is at first intriguing, but quickly becomes testing and ultimately boring. This languid style of shooting makes the bulky running time of 130 minutes feel like an eternity. Several scenes of hundreds of people singing the Ukrainian National anthem or chanting political rhetoric gets so exhausting that there is a guilty release when the situation escalates. When the police introduce live ammunition, it truly is terrifying to witness the pandemonium on the streets of Kiev. With the escalation, Loznitsa’s cameras move to the roof and it’s here, however short-lived, that the film is at its most fascinating. Maidan would have benefitted from a tighter edit, cutting an hour off the running time. There’s even an argument to be made for using the footage as part of an exhibition on the subject. But as it stands, it’s regrettably disengaging.
Maidan is showing on Oct 11th & 13th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival