The Search, reviewed: Acute, affecting drama completely unworthy of scorn

[schema name=”The Search” user_review=”3_5″ director_1=”Michel Hazanavicius” author_1=”Michel Hazanavicius” actor_1=” Bérénice Bejo, Annette Bening, Maksim Emelyanov” ]

For one brief, shining moment in 2011, everyone loved Michel Hazanavicius. It was around the time of the director’s visit to the Cannes Film Festival, where his black-and-white ode to the silent film era, The Artist, captured critics’ hearts. By the time the film made a somewhat improbably run to the Academy Awards, though, it seemed the goodwill had run out. Yes, Hazanavicius still captured the best director Oscar, and the film took home best picture, but in the eyes of most critics, it was just an indictment of the Academy’s fuddy-duddy tastes. The Artist was a fun film, they cried, but a Film of Our Times? Non, merci.

Now, Hazanavicius is back with The Search, a Chechen war tale that couldn’t be more different from his ode to old Hollywood — and when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival this past fall, critics were just as cold toward it. But what was once an unfair backlash continues apace here, as The Search is actually an acute, affecting drama, completely unworthy of scorn.

Yes, it may not live up to Fred Zinneman’s 1948 film on which it’s loosely based, but it’s strong and powerful all the same: a film where it’s clear the director is in complete control. All that, and a deliberately messy performance from frequent Hazanvicius muse (and spouse) Berenice Bejo to boot. Don’t listen to the critic groupthink: Hazanavicius is not one to be dismissed.

The Search opens March 13 at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto. 


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