One is wrong if the documentary is presented in a different way than a fiction film does. The label “based on true events” is just that, a label to indicate that there is a real basis, but what you are going to see is a story. A story told by people, with their own perspective. Not necessarily true, although true for whoever tells it. Keeping these things in mind is essential, not because you have your guard up to what they tell you, but to appreciate how the story unfolds.
In this aspect, that of telling the story, the documentary of ‘NavalnyIt does its job pretty well. Nor are there reasons to doubt the veracity of what he says, even if it sounds so bizarre that in a fictional film it would sound like a crazy scriptwriter who couldn’t come up with anything better. However, the strength of his proposal lies in how it begins as a political documentary to become a a low-scale spy tale but notable consequences.
poison in the blood
On HBO Max we can see this film directed by daniel roher which has been nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category (and let’s not rule out the victory, seeing the political climate we live in). tells us the story of Alexei Navalnythe political activist who has positioned himself as main force at the popular level in opposition to the government of Vladimir Putin in Russia. Through his work on the streets and on Internet channels such as YouTube, he has been in charge of denouncing corruption and abuses of the State.
Navalny’s notoriety is undeniable, and he believes that this gives him sufficient protection against an attack ordered by the president. However, on a flight from Siberia to Moscow he falls seriously ill and is expressly transferred to a nearby hospital. His family and his team begin to move heaven and earth for him to be transferred to a center in another country, since there are beginning to be indications that he has been poisoned. Something that, in effect, German authorities confirm when detecting Novichok (a powerful chemical agent that attacks the nervous system) in their blood.
Both the process to move him from the Russian hospital and the subsequent investigation that Navalny and his team carry out together with a Russian data journalist to reveal who poisoned him and how it is told with intrigue as well as the rhythm of a spy thriller. Bourne on a minimal scale in front of several computers, which Roher recounts in a splendid way, recording moments that are almost improbable due to their mix of methodical and clumsiness.
‘Navalny’: fast-paced political thriller
A mixture that, on the other hand, is not the first time that it has been presented to us. Even the documentary ‘Ícaro’, which exposed the Russian plot carried out to carry out systematic sports doping for the Olympic Games, had that point of nonsense that, on the other hand, seemed very well calculated. ‘Navalny’ employs similar weapons, making a adequate presentation of the political background.
Nevertheless, has its limitations. Having such broad access to this protagonist will partly condition the portrait you can make of him. There are clearly laudable aspects to Alexei’s political campaign, but he is far from a perfect figure. Roher tries to find small spaces to show the chiaroscuro of an opponent whose main ideology is to “get Putin out by any means”, even if it is by allying with fascist forces, and his ideas to change Russia do not seem as concrete as they appear on paper. .
It would be wrong for Roher to present here an irreproachable martyr, simplifying a problem of great magnitude and complexity such as Russian politics. However, he knows that he has such a powerful evil figure that it is inevitable to show him as a rival to fight. With these elements it is easy to build a thriller as intriguing as this one, even if the ending is completely removed from the euphoria of triumph that one would expect from a fiction film.
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