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Review: January (Tribeca 2022)

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An autobiographical look at early 1990s political turmoil in the Soviet Union and the effects on the people of the region, this Latvian story never fully captures the attention of the viewer, nor does it allow for character development that makes the journey worthwhile. 

Aspiring filmmakers Jazis (Kārlis Arnolds Avots) and Anna (Alise Danovska) are thrown at odds when their homeland becomes a battlefield, forcing conflict between the two as they both respond to their ever changing worlds. There are aspects of January that are incredibly engaging and thought-provoking, preeminently the parts of the film where the story is aided by archival footage to set the tone and bring audiences into the reality. However, filmmaker Viesturs Kairiss never quite develops the connection between the viewer and the characters, the love story at the center not fully realized before the central conflict ignites. Perhaps the grainy style of shooting didn’t help, either, but I found myself struggling to stay engaged in what could have been an impactful parallel between past events and modern times, but instead becomes forgettable.

Rating: 2/5

Seen at the 2022 Tribeca Festival

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