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Romania, Serbia, Sweden · 2020
3h 20m
Director Cristi Puiu
Starring Agathe Bosch, Ugo Broussot, Marina Palii, Frédéric Schulz-Richard
Genre Drama, History

Inspired by the work of 19th-century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, this film, set in a snowy manor in Eastern Europe in 1900, tracks a long conversation among a group of European elites discussing complex matters of philosophy and religion, including the role good and evil play in the evolution of society.

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The A.V. Club by A.A. Dowd

One is left to admire the literal and figurative wallpaper—to be blessedly distracted by the mise en scène and Puiu’s attempts to constantly vary how he’s filming each interaction.


The New York Times by A.O. Scott

Imagine a Chekhov play without drama, an Oscar Wilde farce without humor, a Visconti film without desire, or a very long party at the home of a distant acquaintance, and you will have some idea of Malmkrog, Cristi Puiu’s latest film.


The Hollywood Reporter by Boyd van Hoeij

It is uncompromising filmmaking, certainly, but also insular filmmaking that will make a tiny little circle of intellectual cinephiles very happy while leaving everyone else — this critic included — completely cold.


Los Angeles Times by Carlos Aguilar

Even if some segments are invigoratingly thought-provoking in the same manner that a young student feels engaging with classical thinkers for the first time, the format’s lack of stimuli beyond cutting between speakers soon turns tedious. In scenes conceived as static frames, Puiu plays with depth of field for slightly more visually layered results.


Variety by Jay Weissberg

Even people reasonably familiar with Gnosticism, Manichaeism and its offshoots, early 20th century history and the works of Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, whose writings Puiu adapted, will find this punishing film, with its theatrical construct and off-putting running time, a challenge with few lasting rewards.


Screen Daily by Jonathan Romney

For all its directorial mastery, this austere cine-symposium feels like an artistic blind alley, and one that recklessly presumes an audience of committed chin-strokers with a preternatural attention span.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

For all that this film has something exasperatingly opaque and inert about it, it has an uncompromising insistence that ideas matter. These people’s thoughts, although debatable, are not simply presented as absurd. Malmkrog is a long, demanding experience – a real festival event. But that bizarre dreamlike eruption lives on in the mind.


The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor

The vast majority of the film functions as a hypnotic if frankly monotonous dialectic (ruminations on Christ, honor, “we were just following orders,” war, love etc. that become more heated as time goes on) that is assured to alienate most anyone without a minor in philosophy or the vocabulary of academic text.


The Irish Times by Tara Brady

Malmkrog is a talky, challenging slog, but it’s seldom short of ideas. One is unlikely to find greater consideration of pelagianism in any other film this year. Or decade.

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