After luring emigres back to the motherland following World War II, Stalinists killed or imprisoned many of them. Alexei (Oleg Menchikov from ”Burnt by the Sun”) and his French-born wife, Marie (”La Cérémonie”’s Sandrine Bonnaire), the fictional couple who suffer for their innocent patriotism in East-West, are allowed to live because Alexei is needed as a doctor. But existence is brutal, and spies seem to overhear even dreams of escape.
Régis Wargnier (”Indochine”) directs his French historical drama, a foreign film Oscar nominee, in a way that allows little perspective on the extent of Stalinist cruelty; even when terrible things happen, they do so sedately. Landscape, costumes, Bonnaire’s sad face — they’re all gray. Only ruby-lipped Catherine Deneuve is allowed an expression of personal color in the role of a famous actress who, with Deneuvian grandeur, helps repatriate a fellow daughter of free France.