POISON ALWAYS LEAVES A TRAIL.
It’s easy to see one thing after watching this movie: Vladimir Putin is afraid of Alexei Navalny. Daniel Roher’s documentary crafts a likable portrait of the brave Russian dissident who inspires regular people to stand up to Putin, a thug who can’t say his opponent’s name on camera. Roher focuses on Navalny’s poisoning in Siberia in 2020 and his subsequent attempt, together with Bellingcat, a group of investigative journalists, to trace the attempted murder back to Kremlin; the regime is brutal, but also very clumsy. The film’s third act is an intense depiction of Navalny’s voluntary return to Russia, the act of a martyr. Roher combines tension with a lovely portrait of Navalny’s marriage, but also confronts him with his shady liaisons in the past.
2022-U.S. 98 min. Color. Produced by Diane Becker, Shane Boris, Melanie Miller, Odessa Rae. Directed by Daniel Roher.
Oscar: Best Documentary Feature. BAFTA: Best Documentary.
Last word: “I was always drawing and painting when we were shooting the movie. And he would always ask me why I’m always sketching. And I’d said, well, Navalny, I have this condition called ADD, and I have trouble focusing. So if I’m able to draw and paint, it helps me focus. And he turns to Maria, his lieutenant, and he says, oh, how wonderful that we hired a director with special needs. […] This speaks to Navalny’s sense of humor. Navalny is a prankster.” (Roher, NPR)