Wednesday, January 15, 2014

807. Astenicheskij sindrom/The Asthenic Syndrome (1989)

Running Time: 153 minutes
Directed By: Kira Muratova
Written By: Aleksandr Chernykh, Kira Muratova, Sergei Popov
Main Cast: Sergei Popov, Olga Antonova, Galina Zakhurdayeva, Natalya Buzko, Aleksandra Svenskaya


And I quote...

"It may drive you nuts - as it was undoubtedly meant to - but you certainly won't forget it."

That's how THE BOOK sums up "The Asthenic Syndrome" and really, they hit the nail on the head. Talk about a rough season of films. First, I'm forced to sit through seven hours of "Satantango", where thoughts of quitting the project altogether flashed through my head. Then a group of Chinese films, including "Farewell My Concubine", "The Blue Kite" and "A Brighter Summer Day". And now comes "The Asthenic Syndrome", quite the maddening affair, to say the least.

The plot synopsis, I warn you in advance, is going to be bare bones, because the damn thing was barely feasible. The film starts out with about a forty minute, sort of short film about a woman who goes into a rage following the death of her husband. She's a doctor and she spends the duration of this forty minutes yelling at strangers, tendering her resignation from the hospital where she works and picking up a stranger to sleep with, only to get him back to her apartment and her bed and kick him out, screaming at him. It's actually kind of interesting and engaging and I didn't mind it that much. The only thing that kind of bugged me is that despite being shot in black & white, the footage looked to be about forty years old, as opposed to twenty-ish. From there, it is revealed that everything we've been watching has just been a film within the film, as the lights come up and the audience is revealed. Everybody files out, save for one sleeping man - Nikolai (Popov). This is where the film becomes almost incomprehensible, as we follow Nikolai - a teacher who falls asleep at random times, no matter what is going on. I honestly, despite having just watched this film a few hours ago, cannot tell you what the rest of the movie was about. It was gibberish, if you ask me. Welcome to the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" project, where, no matter how advanced the film watcher, everyone...EVERYONE will find SOMETHING that will make them want to rip their hair out. This was a chore and a half and I'm so so glad it's over.

What else can I say? I mean, obviously I didn't like the movie. I guess the opening forty minutes were okay, but the footage just looked so old. I actually had to stop at one point and check to make sure I was watching the right film, because there's no way this film looked like it was produced in 1989/1990 (THE BOOK says '89, everywhere else says '90 - so who knows). I mean, I'm fine with old looking movies, but it just shows how behind the times Russia may have been when it came to things like movie making. Or, hell, maybe it was intentionally meant to look aged, I don't know. The copy I had was off the computer and at one point, about thirty minutes before the end, the subtitles crapped out and went WAY off sync. However, I highly doubt I missed much.

RATING: 1/10  There's nothing else to say really. It's worth nothing that I'm going to continue to back track through the 80s and all I really have left from the 80s, is a lot of harder to find films. I have them found, but I expect a lot of crap between now and the end of the season, although I will gladly be proven wrong. It's also worth noting that I've moved everything that is on ANY KIND of a wait, to the top of my Netflix queue, so as to make sure I get them and can watch them before I'm ready to finish this thing up once and for all.


January 15, 2014  5:35pm


  1. What can I say about this one?
    No idea.
    And i feel i have done my contribution to debate in other replies today...
    I'm off for that second cup of tea i said i was going for over an hour ago,

    1. Hope you enjoyed that second cup a LOT more than I enjoyed this disaster.

  2. Ouch! I will definitely stay away from this one. I actually thought it sounded kind of interesting first.

    1. It's weird, my brother tweeted me last night and said he thought it sounded interesting. It may sound like something, but trust me - it's nothing!


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