Leto (2018) Poster


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In honnour of the ideal of rock
matlabaraque20 December 2018
Leto deserves a proper review as its direction is so original, unique and magnificient. The story is rather simple. A confirmed rock star of the early eighties (Mayk) struggles to promote rock music in the declining Sovietic Union when another musician (Viktor Tsoi) arises as a new promising talent. His wife, Natalia can't help to be attracted to this new talent...and so does he. This film almost has it all. It features fantastic actors, an interesting story (who would not like to know what was being a rock star in the Soviet Union in the 80's ?), a great soundtrack, and some developments in the film you do not expect. I would definitely take on the direction of this film as its main feature, as Serebrennikov films so well, invents moments of magic, and has so much inventions that you can feel the soul of rock. Quite early in the film, you understand the movie is not just all about following the emergence of Viktor Tsoi the Kurt Cobain of Russia (or the Jim Morisson of Russia back in those days), but also about giving pride of place to the ideal of rock. Serebrennikov pays tribute to what rock and roll meant for his generation, what it inspired and what it felt to listen to this music in this oppressive atmosphere of Russia in the 80's. I believe that many many directors tried this before him, but Serebrennikov may be the only one to have succeeded in this initiative of linking music to political protest. The long take at the beach and several musica clips are simply fantastic ! For this and for his fantastic direction, the film has already become a must-see film to me.
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If that could be a real history...
CupPusta30 June 2018
This movie has a soul. One could write about Soviet (harsh) realities, but I won't. I was surprised, when an elderly pair (looked like 70+) arrived to watch the film - even some of 50+ Russian folks would criticize what is shown (but I hope they have their right not to watch it). For a younger people, this will be a good example to have a glimpse on Soviet life of 1980s. Takes a very talented director to make the actors act like this. I've got several recalls of "Assa" (one of the best movies of late 1980s), but this has got its own charms. So, I definitely recommend this one to watch. At least, for the memory of those, whom we loved.
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A Hymn to Youth, Change and Dream
Wes_Dean2 February 2019
Leto is one of these rare movies that know how to talk to your heart, to open it up and awaken all the dreams you ever thought of. Leto is a little jewel, the one in which resides such powerful, impacting strength but also a beauty that you can only admire.

The movie puts us in the underground rock scene of late Soviet Union. It sets itself in a climate where change is asked but also felt, the times of the Perestroika. But yet control over culture is really strong. The way youth wants to express itself, by the music they listen to and make (music inspired in many occidental rock groups) is only limited to abandoned warehouses where access is restricted, under control of the regime's police. This creative climate is always contained, but never feels oppressive for the viewer nor for the characters that actually act with great liberty. And this is particularly thanks to Serebrennikov's directing. He uses all cinema's artifices, pushes the limits of staging to create his own universe. The black and white creates an atmosphere of such simplicity, yet full of possibilities. The adopted view expresses how all the characters and all the legends that forged this period were great dreamers at core. They had dreams, they dream all along, they tried to transmit their dreams in the frame that was imposed to them. They created a new vision, a new world. The power of youth for change is one of the great motors of this movie. But the real beauty is that the movie never falls in a pamphletarian tone, it always stays with this optimist vision that awakens the dreamer in each one of us, and encourages everyone to pursue their dreams. Although it's dealing with past, Serebrennikov's tale is still really relevant in our time, where we all absolutely need to dream and need to fulfill our dreams to escape this anxiogenous climate that reigns in our society. The movie warms your heart, gives you power and energy for change -whatever type of change it is- and that's where resides all the greatness of the movie; it is a source of light that will reheat your heart, and give you hope.

That's why I am still scandalized that it didn't win a single prize in Cannes when it is one of the movies that was really worth winning a distinction. It would of been the occasion of giving a great impulse to this creative, crazy and ambitious cinema, that throws traditional codes away and finally dares to brake rules ! It would of been the occasion to recognize the talent and vision of Serebrennikov that is, we all know, put at risk by elements that he cannot control.

So go, run to watch this hymn to youth, revolution, change, beauty and dream !
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Excellent scenes, visual magic, poetic narration
gokselcin16 July 2019
Leto is one of the most beatiful movies I've recently seen: may be the best one among produced 2018.

Leto, by the sense of its some features, shares magnificent aspects of Roma of Alfonso Cuaron; regarding not only monochrome shooting but also plain storytelling with awesome camera views, avoiding flagrancy to set political, historical and social background and picturing human relations encounting their psychological context.

Leto is really a cinema pleasure!
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Electrifying experience
jeromesdarling4 July 2019
This film is nothing short of an electrifying experience.

I was skeptic to begin with. This, I can tell you right off the bat, was a huge mistake. When the actual film started, I immediately forgot about anything outside the screen. It was like a time travel deluxe package. I speak as someone who is a half European, half Russian Gen Z. I never experienced the Soviet era on first hand, but the night I went to watch this film, I forgot the current year. They're writing 2019 now, you say...? Ha ha, but really. Intense and during certain points in the film, I even got chills.

If you've ever heard about "breaking the 4th wall" as a filmography term, well, get excited because this is exactly what happens a lot. The end result is that you feel like you physically *are* present, and thus incredibly difficult for you to not feel connected in some manner.

The special effects are incredible, and the relationship between black and white/colour splashes in the film is something I've hardly ever seen before. This is fantastic.

One of the points about the film which made me skeptic to begin with was the "love triangle" ordeal in the bio. "Love triangle"? I thought. "Oh my, this has been done to death already!" I was fearing Twilight-esque cliché onto cliché, but nothing like it was to be found at all. It felt humane and raw... original. Not cliché.

If you have Russian roots somehow or have studied Russian, it's hard not to enjoy this film. If you've been in the Soviet regime yourself, you might get very touched/cry because as I mentioned, strong time travel feeling in here. If you're a Russian-rooted millennial or Gen Z, there is a huge potential for you to learn a lot and feel connected to the past of Russia.

I certainly felt connected and impressed. Should you folks happen to have any second thoughts or reservations about watching this, I tell you to just let go of them because the experience is incredible. Worth my every penny :)
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Energetic and stylish Russian music memoir
gortx27 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Kirill Serebrennikov stylish Russian feature based on the memoirs of Natalia 'Natasha' Naumenko (Irina Starshenbaum) who was the wife and muse of famed Russian musician Mikhail 'Mike' Naumenko (Roman Bilyk; a songwriter himself). It's not a traditional bio-pic with secondary characters spinning in and out, flights of imagination and the entire time scale limited to a year or so.

The time is circa 1980, the place is Leningrad. The setting is crucial for this is several years before Perestroika. Stuffy old Brezhnev is still in power. Rock concerts were still strictly controlled, and had be as orderly as attending the Bolshoi. Music was from the West was still largely treated as contraband, with LPs and tapes sold on the streets and in the dark corridors of the subway. Mike, Natasha and their friends argue over Punk and New Wave and how to incorporate those sounds under the repressive regime (or more accurately, sneak them in). One of the younger upstart singers is Victor Tsoy (Teo Yoo) who Mike takes under his wing, while at the same time catching the eye of Natasha.

As with most memoirs, the events depicted are filtered through the perspective of both time and that of the adapters (Director Serebrennikov co-wrote with three others). Rendered in wide-screen Black & White, LETO takes on the look and feel of rock 'n roll myth-making. A train full of the young musicians is assaulted by police as they defiantly break out into a rousing version of The Talking Heads' 'Psycho Killer'. A documentary filmmaker follows the band around with his 16mm film camera (those segments are in color). Graphics and graffiti are drawn right on the 'film'. Every once in a while, a minor character will break the fourth wall and talk directly to the camera informing us that such and such an event "never happened".

At over two hours, LETO does get repetitive at times. U.S. audiences won't be as enthralled at some of the minor bits and asides that almost certainly have more cultural resonance domestically*. Still, the movie's energy and vigor ring through. The cast, music, editing and photography are aces. The language may be different, but the spirit of the music needs no translation.

* I arrived in the Soviet Union a week or so after Mike's passing (including a lovely week in Leningrad). I, obviously, had never heard of him, but, I do recall the locals still buzzing about his tragic early passing. A couple of months later, Freddie Mercury died, and the Americans and the Russians on the work project commiserated together.
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A personal window into the beginnings of the Soviet rock scene
bbretall-122 June 2019
Biopic/romance about a love triangle between singer-songwriter Mike Naumenko (founding member of Zoopark) that was one of the founding groups in the Russian rock movement, his wife Natalia 'Natasha' Naumenko, and his protege Viktor Tsoy (singer-songwriter who co-founded Kino, one of the most popular and musically influential bands in the history of Russian rock music). Based on the memoir of Natasha Naumenko and filmed in B&W, this is a riveting, lyrical movie that provides a window into ordinary Soviet life in the early 1980s. Not nearly as totalitarian as we in the USA are normally led to believe, but with subtle elements throughout that let us see they are by no means a completely free society. Great music weaves its way thought the film, both by Zoopark and Kino, as well as many references to western artists who are their influences (Sex Pistols, Bowie, T-Rex, Lou Reed, The Beatles, etc.) At several points the film shifts into non-sequitur music videos of western songs (like Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day') at the end of which one of the characters would have a sign saying (in Russian) "This did not really happen"... Overall a fascinating movie, highly recommended for people who love music, especially if you'd like an introduction to some Soviet rock, which I was previously unfamiliar with.
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Very good film
ejik8815 June 2019
One of the fiew films (if not the only one) that trully describes the atnosphere of soviet rock scene.
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Summer in the city, not the greatest or most memorable summer unfortunately
Horst_In_Translation6 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Leto" or "Summer" is a pretty new Russian movie from 2018 and the most recent filmmaking effort by director Kirill Serebrennikov who is also credited as one of several writers and he is among the country's most influential filmmakers these days. Now this is at over 2 hours a fairly long movie and with some very brief exceptions it is entirely in black-and-white focussing on rock music in the Soviet Union several decades ago with major focus on how it influenced strongly by American artists everybody knows of today like Bowie, Iggy Pop and many others. The first half includes more about the political background. There are scenes when during a concert female fans are prohibited from showing signs thatg they love the singers and there are other scenes in which too free-spirited artists are discriminated against in a train because of their liberal tendencies that are not in conformity with the system, also in a violent manner. The second half switches more into personal territory then as the focus moves on to the relationship between two central characters and a love triangle that arises from it when we have German-born actor Teo Yoo's character at the center of it all, also music-wise and he plays Wiktor Zoi and maybesome will know him as the singer from the Soviet band Kino. I must admit I did not, so this film took me and probably many other audience members to a territory that was very new to them, namely the music scene in the Soviet Union back in the day. Sadly I must say the way it was presented here, even if the creativity is impossible to deny, it did not really attract my attention and there were several scenes that made zero impact for me. It's not really the problem that very little happens in these two hours, but that the film does not make enough of a difference in other fields either and it really should have. The music scenes were solid, well the American in my opinion because it directed my attention to several songs I have come across already and liked, but forgotten about over the years. Usually they handled it that minor supporting characters like in the public transportation scene sing in English while the main characters perform in Russian. The Russian songs did virtually nothing for me. So yeah, there is definitely some personal preference in here, maybe also some personal bias, but this film did not make the impact I wanted it to make for me. I still liked the scenes when they included all kinds of animated special effects like during the Lou Reed song Perfect Day the red color or also the quick lightning you on some occasions or the letters written on the screen on several occasions too. But this alone is not enough sadly. And Irina Starshenbaum's stunning looks can also only make up for so much of it. That's why as a whole I give this film a thumbs-down and don't recommend checking it out. It is not a work on the level where it will get you interested in the subject, only one where you will like the film if you've been interested before already. So if you like Kino and care about their country back then when they were famous, then feel free to check it out. Otherwise skip the watch and honestly, you won't be missing much.
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