Pros: good script construction; actors’ speech; music; balance between serious and comic episodes Cons: inappropriate and very naive scene in the finale “Ex” / EKS / “Ex”
Genre: Drama, Action, Comedy
Director Sergei Lysenko
Starring Orest Pastukh, Vitaly Gordienko, Roman Kryvdyk, Liza Bakulina, Alina Kovalenko, Vasily Kolisnyk, Anatole Von-Filandra, Yulia Khmil, Victor Zhdanov, Yaroslav Fedorchuk and others.
Year of release 2020
The events of the film take place in 1932 in the Jagiellonian city of Grudek (now a settlement called Gorodok, located in the Lviv region). Participants of the UVO (Ukrainian military organization) plan to carry out the so-called “ex” – an act of expropriation. For them, this is a political action that should attract public attention. As a target, the heroes choose a Polish post office, which does not have heavy security. The underground workers are developing a detailed plan of action, but due to a coincidence, everything does not happen exactly as they planned.
It is worth noting that there was not such a stir around the film “Ex” as around other Ukrainian premieres this winter (“Viddana” and “My Quiet Thoughts” were still heard much more). It’s not entirely clear from the trailer what to expect from the film, and you won’t see any familiar names among the main cast. For these reasons, the tape may pass by the viewer, which will not be entirely fair. Still, the film is definitely worth watching, and it will especially please those who follow the progress in the development of Ukrainian film production.
The first thing you notice in the film is the natural pronunciation of the actors, which flows with a melodic stream of original Galician speech. Some lines sound so interesting that listening to them is a pleasure. This is the result of a successful decision by director Sergei Lysenko, who conducted the casting where the events of the film take place. (By the way, Lysenko is the same director who shot his graduation directorial work “The End of Vacation” with Viktor Tsoi in the title role.)
Despite the lack of experience of the young cast, the main characters look quite convincing on camera. They feel the mood of the film and hit the right accents. In addition, they are periodically insured by more experienced artists who play episodic roles. This is, for example, Viktor Zhdanov (known for the films “Cyborgs”, “Volcano”, “Zakhar Berkut”), who played a priest.
I would also like to praise the film’s script, which manages to keep the intrigue almost until the very end. Events are divided into several seemingly unrelated storylines, develop rapidly and take unexpected turns.
Interestingly, the characters associated with the UVO are shown extremely seriously on the screen. But the moments in which the batyars, avid revelers and adventurers, appear, are complemented by comic elements and high-spirited music. By the way, the musical numbers (from the creators of the musical theater formation Nova Opera), for which the director allocates enough time, remain in the memory for a long time. This is a good example of how you can immerse the viewer in the right atmosphere and allow him to be distracted by the real performance.
What will not escape attention is the cinematography vision of Sergei Mikhalchuk (winner of the Silver Bear Award for outstanding achievements in the field of cinematography). Due to the peculiarities of working with the camera, the film “Ex” turns into an action movie, in places very reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s signature style. This can evoke different emotions, but one thing is for sure – for Ukrainian cinema this approach is quite applicable, if only because the cameraman brings something new to a historical production.
But the essence of the struggle for independence remains the same, so some of the lines spoken by the actors amazingly clearly describe the situations of both the 1930s and the current modern times. These include the memorable monologue of a villager addressing a government official.
Unfortunately, the creators could not stop there in time, moving from ironic to didactic. Towards the end, the successful political references were spoiled by a very naive line uttered by the young heroine. Without it, the main message was already perfectly captured, but for some reason the director decided to put an end to it with a scene in the spirit of school lines.
Otherwise, I don’t want to criticize the film. It has all the necessary props, costumes and attributes that will help you transport yourself to another century. Perhaps some things don’t turn out quite perfectly, but overall the film “Ex” is a worthy example of how a historical entertaining film can be made.
The film “Ex” is an interesting example of the development of Ukrainian cinema. It combines action, comedy and historical drama. All this successfully turns into a single plot, not without intrigue.