Director: Aleksandr Sokurov
Catching up on some old film reviews here, apologies.
Sokurov is a hit-and-miss filmmaker. His films alternate between the sublime (The Son) and the disappointing (neither Taurus nor Moloch did much for me, and I was underwhelmed by Russian Ark). I feel that Alexandra fits more into the former category.
Finding a new perspective on depicting war was always going to be difficult, but by having the lead character be a 70-something grandmother visiting her grandson in Chechnya where he is serving in the Russian army (the location is never stated, but fairly clear that this is where the film is set), the film manages to inject in a welcome mood of world-weariness and understanding while still plainly showing the effects of war on the surrounding community.
For much of the film, Alexandra just wanders around the army camp observing their rituals and asking questions. She makes a foray at one point to the local village, where the bombed-out shells of buildings are still occupied by families and people retain an essential hopefulness. The nicest moments in the film come unscripted as the raw young recruits stare in wonder at this elegant older lady processing amongst them.