The Cannes Film Festival ended with its longest competition title, and it wasn’t even a complete film. Nikita Mikhalkov Exodus: Burnt by the Sun 2 should, in fact, be called Exodus: Burnt by the Sun 2: Part 1, since what was screened was just one half of the final project. Exodus is essentially two and a half hours of Colonel Kotov (Mikhalkov) trudging through WWII battle zones to reunite with his daughter Nadya (Nadezhda Mikhalkova, the director’s real-life offspring) without making very much progress at all. (Yes, I know a title card at the end of Burnt by the Sun says that Kotov and his entire family were executed. The film deals with that by announcing that it was, basically, a filing error.)
When Nazis attack the prison camp in which Kotov is held, he escapes, eventually joining up with other Russian soldiers to trek across the country while avoiding being killed. Meanwhile, his daughter does, well, pretty much the exact same thing, except she flees from a Soviet school. Mikhalkov, being a larger-than-life nationalist psychopath, doesn’t half-ass anything. The entire movie is nonstop bombast, with huge battles, epic widescreen vistas, silent-film performances, and one of the most absolutely ridiculous scores I’ve ever heard in a movie. It can be very funny (largely because Mikhalkov clearly doesn’t mean any of it as comedy), but it’s mostly just exhausting, especially once the movie ends with Kotov and his daughter just as far apart as they were to begin with, and you realize that nothing you just watched mattered at all. I’m sure it will all be resolved in Exodus: Burnt by the Sun 2: Part 2, but I can’t exactly say I’m counting down the days to find out.