“The Search,” which screened for the press yesterday morning is a two-and-a-half hour-long war drama set in war-torn Chechnya in 1999. In this new film by “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius we follow four different people as they contend with the vagaries of war, the main one being about a woman who’s separated from her brother after a bombing attack and goes on the search of the title.
The director’s wife Bérénice Bejo plays Carol, an N.G.O. employee based in the heart of the conflict who’s attempting, like so many others like her, to remain relevant to the aid campaign and make her voice heard in the face of the U.N.’s apparent inaction. In a speech to an assembly of international representatives she decries the lack of awareness of the conflict. But as the bigger issues of humanitarian aid remain permanently unresolved, Bejo’s character finds meaning in an encounter with a prepubescent boy named Hadji.
Kolya (Maksim Emelyanov) is your average, dope-smoking student. He gets sent to the army after being caught by the police while walking down the street with a friend. Hazanavicius effectively sets him up to become a mercenary soldier (one of those we’ve heard about so often during this conflict that will torture and maim their way through the Geneva Convention). He gets picked on by more experienced soldiers and humiliated, constantly.
The film was shot in Georgia and was photographed by Guillaume Schiffman. This new film marks the end of a long hiatus following the success of “The Artist,” for the the Lituanian-born Hazanavicius. Unlike “The Artist” “The search,” which is a remake of the 1948 film by Fred Zinnemann is a failed movie, the search of the title not getting top billing. The story, in fact, is told from Bejo’s perspective and she isn’t searching for anyone. A badly-written film which ultimately could not be saved by Mr. Hazanavicius’s many talents as a filmmaker.