Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in 2014 changed the lives of all Ukrainians forever. This is reflected practically in all spheres of life in the country. Cinematography could not ignore such an important event for the entire nation. Even though the phase of a full-scale war has already begun, the origins of the conflict have still not been fully explored in films and TV series. “Peaceful-21” is a film that is designed to slightly correct the current situation. We’ll tell you in the review below how this attempt turned out.
Pros: interesting atmosphere of a psychological thriller in the first half of the running time; a reliable portrayal of the work of border guards without unnecessary romanticization; a feeling of hope and faith in victory after watching Cons: a certain naivety of the story; simple images and motives at the heart of each character
“Mirny-21” / Myrnyi-21
Genre military action drama
Directed by Akhtem Seitablayev
Starring Andrei Saminin, Maxim Devizorov, Pavlo Li, Viktor Zhdanov, Maria Shtofa, Sergei Frolov
Release year 2023
The events of the film take place in May 2014. Crimea is already occupied by Russia, Donetsk and Lugansk regions are next in line. In the village of Mirny, which is located in the Lugansk region on the border with Russia, Russian agents are already preparing the ground for an invasion. The story focuses on a detachment of border guards who have to give a worthy rebuff to the enemy.
The director of the film, Akhtem Seitablayev, said that one of the key themes of his story is trust. In conditions where even close friends and old acquaintances can be recruited by the Russian Federation, it becomes very difficult to trust anyone. And “Mirny-21” conveys this real moment very accurately.
Because of this, the first half of the film feels extremely tense and is more reminiscent of a thriller in genre. The head of a border guard detachment needs to figure out who he can trust when a military invasion is already inevitable. And potential betrayals lurk around every corner. Add to this the somewhat intimate atmosphere of the first half of the film – and you get quite a dramatic action.
There is no particularly sublime drama in the stories of individual characters. Quite the contrary, local images are simple and understandable to everyone. The daring son of an oligarch, a brave soldier, a manipulative traitor – “Mirny-21” operates with familiar characters, so there are no miracles in this regard. But the scenario equalizes everyone when full-fledged hostilities begin.
When creating the film, the team consulted with a real colonel of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. Thanks to this, the specifics of the work of border guards in Mirny-21 are conveyed reliably. There is no excessive romanticization or any supernatural moments in it. Military service here looks like routine work, a debt to the homeland that needs to be repaid.
The second half of Mirny-21 is a moderately large-scale military action, full of shootouts and the nuances of modern warfare. There is no over-the-top pathos in the local battles, but the film does not descend into a gloomy depiction of them. Again, the shooting in the film is part of the job of border guards. And no matter how terrible the circumstances, this is still the prose of their life.
One can only complain about a certain naivety, as well as the idealization of the overall story of the film. After the horrors of a full-scale Russian invasion in 2022, Mirny 21 feels somewhat limited and somewhat fantastical. Everything is going too well in some places.
Perhaps these are the kind of films we need now. Without unnecessary “darkness” and thickening of colors, because this is enough in reality. And something slightly embellished to instill in people hope and faith in victory. We will still have time to feel sad while watching films after the victory.
Mirny-21 did not escape the shadow of a real war. Pavel Li, one of the film’s actors, died in March 2022 due to Russian shelling. And part of the money from ticket sales will go to the “Come Back Alive” fund to purchase mortars and pickup trucks in different regions of Ukraine.
From a technical point of view, the film may surprise someone with its 4:3 aspect ratio, which is only seen in cinemas today when watching arthouse films. But the locations turned out to be very pleasant and will definitely resonate in the heart of every Ukrainian, even if you have never been to the Lugansk region.
“Mirny-21” is based on real events. Therefore, the heroism of the main characters is not a script fiction, but the reality of the life of the Ukrainian military. They show it even now, protecting the country from new hordes of evil spirits.
“Mirny-21” is difficult to evaluate from the point of view of classical film criticism. After all, this is less a feature film and more a copy of the bloody history of modern Ukraine. However, as a movie, “Mirny-21” turned out to be quite worthy