A Rising Fury: Review. By Samhith Ankam.
Sometimes being timely means going back in time, tracking the present from the past, to be present for the sparks of the bomb about to blow. What this documentary does is show us hope in a never-ending nightmare; the fact that it hasn’t ended proves that they haven’t lost. Groomed into the Ukrainian army but not without a sense of self-nationalism, Pavlo is our anchor in the narrative every minute forward from 2014, when Lesya Kalynska and Ruslan Batytskyi’s documentary started.
The Maidan Revolution, where peaceful protests for integration with Europe were forcibly turned into riots by police, quickly takes hold of the screen without much detail in logistics to truly make us feel present. But, to its credit, the sensation of a nation in a state of implosion gets across, and in time, the explicit Russian presence retroactively becomes an influence, like a virus spreading through the air. There’s a reason the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended the plans for the association agreement with the European Nation.
Dark days when Russia invaded Ukraine recently, escalating a war that’s already made death a mainstay in their lands. The elderly who have to say goodbye too early, the young who haven’t had enough to say goodbye to, and even those 18-20-year-olds who are forced down into the fight and miss out on all the beauty the world has to offer just as they were finally able to perceive it. Instead of haunting you to sleep. But, this isn’t lost in the trauma that it becomes inescapable; addressing the idea of death is almost therapeutic here.
Look to one phone call in the latter half where the sounds of chaos – orders being screamed out, soldiers moving into the cavalry – obfuscate the voice on the other end to *us*. All we have to go with is the person’s face, filled with overwhelming sadness at first, but gulps that cry and mentions that they’ll be starting soon. That’s what runs through this documentary, even if it gets lost in trying to make a story about betrayal, here between Pavlo and his friend, who he considers a role model, Igor. Igor ends up being a Russian spy, converting Ukranian soldiers into fighting for his cause, thereby turning regions into Russia’s control – it’s all explained with a helpful graphic about 2/3rds through.
There really isn’t any dramatic friction until that point, which makes this aimless until it hits as a bang, breaking the hope in Pavlo’s eyes.
If he’ll regain the spark in his eyes matters, but this also broadens the scope at times, to the point of incoherency in the narrative, to show hope at the collective level, not the individual. And look at today, Ukraine fought back and continues to fight back through the pain. But, one wishes this documentary was put together in a way that doesn’t wander to get it all across.
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