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East-West

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Erwan Baynaud, Catherine Deneuve, ...

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.