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Mainstream - Russia - 12

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Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov
Russian with English subtitles
Russia 2007
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2009
159 minutes

12 is Russia's 2007 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film. This adaptation / retelling of 12 Angry Men by director Sidney Lumet and writer Reginald Rose is quite interesting if you like foreign film DVD. At 3 hours, 12 is twice as long as Twelve Angry Men. This puts a serious demand on even the most dedicated foreign film DVD fan. Is that demand justifiable? Good question.

Here, a Chechen teenager is accused of killing is foster dad, a retired Russian army officer. The twelve members of the jury deliberate. The elements of the case pretty much follow those in 12 Angry Men.

I thought the French really liked to talk in their movies but 12 shows the Russians can give them some serious competition. This, the fact director Nikita Mikhalkov is a bit self-indulgent in his movie (the "Look Ma! I am making a movie!" opening is really annoying), and the hard to understand flashbacks to the criminal's story put a serious demand on the viewer's generosity.

There is also the fact each character gets a soliloquy and some of them are hard to connect to the case at hand.

Plot wise the amount of information that was not presented in the case but that the bailiff can get for the jurors is hard to believe. Were 12 a mystery, the plot would not hold. At least not for a North American / European viewer more familiar with the way the jury system works.

12 is overall an excellent foreign film DVD with more than its share of great scenes. Its length and a self-indulgent director put quite a strain on any viewer.

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