- Movie Rating -

The 95th Academy Award nominees: ‘Navalny’

| February 4, 2023

• Best Documentary Feature

It is clear from the very beginning that we know that Alexi Navalny is a marked man.  He is certain that his time upon this mortal coil is short and so he uses the best defense that is  available to him: humor.  Stepping into Daniel Roher’s documentary Navalny, he makes the statement that his story is obviously a thriller and then notes that it might be invaluable if he, in a short time, should turn up dead.  Those who put a target on his head are the regime of Vladimir Putin and there’s no doubt that they would like to see this man dead.  The thrust of the movie is the fact that he might, in fact, end up dead by their hands.  He knows this because they’ve already tried once.

Most of us couldn’t do what Navalny does.  He’s a political activist who dared to criticize one of the most feared men in the world.  He is a pro-democracy activist who leans dangerously to the left.  That’s dangerous to him and potentially dangerous to the men in power to whom he opposes.  What is interesting about Navalny is that Roher is not just focused on the man’s pressing of political agitation.  Navalny is a pain in the butt to those who want things a certain way – or in Putin’s case, who want to stay in power forever.

This is the main reason that Navalny almost found himself at the bottom of a river and one of the reasons that he is known worldwide.  The other reason is that he had to nerve to return to Russia, flocked by reporters.  His mission was to create a powerful coalition of left-wing activists who oppose Putin by using social media as a weapon against him.

I won’t say too much.  There are surprising things that happen in Navalny.  I’ll just say that this is an emotional ride, a movie that oversteps the trappings of the usual documentary of this sort (and they are here) with cinematic touches like talking heads and ominous music.  But you don’t mind so much because in the darkness wrought by Vlad the Terrible, it is refreshing to get to the heart of someone who dared to oppose him.

The value of the film is showing us that even during dark times (which we’re in), it is refreshing to always have someone brave enough and foolish enough to stand up to those who want to stomp all over the world – just as Putin is doing with his war in Ukraine.  Navalny is a first step, an agitator, an activist, a troublemaker, a foolish man, but also a dangerous man who presses and presses at those who bully the world.  Thank God he’s on our side.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Documentary