The Student (aka (M)uchenik) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
The Student (‘(M)uchenik’ in Russian) is directed by Kirill Serebrennikov and walks a thin line between an outright criticism of religion (mostly Christianity in all its forms and sub-sects) and embracing that same religion through sending an ambivalent message as the outcome of the film. The Student is based on the play "Martyr" (which the word Muchenik also means) by German author Marius von Mayenburg, whilst also being adapted to the projected bleak reality of contemporary Russian life. And so, is the film worth of ascribing any merit to it? Read on to find out.
In some way or another, The Student criticizes religion in a way that’s universal for all religious upbringings, with Orthodox Christianity serving at its forefront as is. And so, The Student ends up deliberately making its characters to quote parts from the Bible in order to depict that any idea, no matter how innocent and pure it may seem at first, can become the voice of zealots used to wiped their projected enemies – at that current period in the history of time. Or in other words: any religion can become aggressive towards those which it collectively deems as the enemies of the aforementioned religious group.
Especially true and striking is the idea of a possible iteration of the Bible into a human body, which is not a 100% original idea per se (the voice of God), but an interesting idea that needs a thorough analyzing to get to the bottom of it all.
Also, the film is very idiosyncratic in its tendencies, as at first it poses a really difficult question regarding religious fundamentalism; but then, instead of providing a clear-cut solution, The Student instead offers that same type of one-sided thinking (at least in the adapted screenplay) that strives for yielding to idealism without a cause, located in hopeless individuals with no sign of healthy reasoning or thinking.
Nonetheless, The Student does also provide audiences with another solution to this both moral and ethical dilemma: fundamental thinking can be overlooked in its initial form, but it may become too late when it grows into something much more than just an idea, a thought. The director makes this clear by projecting his ideas onto the main character and waiting on all else to decipher his tendencies as the narration goes on.
When it comes down to its technical details, The Student is a very competent film, featuring excellent camera work, good sound mixing, good angle shots, and everything that makes film a proper “film”. Good job there crew.
All things considered, The Student is worth your time at least for the idea it offers.