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“Petrov’s Fever” by Kirill Serebrennikov plunges into the abyss of another eternal Russia

Under house arrest in Russia since 2017, Kirill Serebrennikov is still touring and going out Petrov’s Fever Wednesday December 1, after her splendid Leto in 2018. The vision of Russia that he gives in his new film is very dark. This “fever” of the title is perhaps that of an artist deprived of freedom of movement for three years, at the bottom of a chasm, which he would not be close to coming out, not before 2023, according to the latest news.

Petrov has the flu like his wife and young son with whom he lives. Evolving in a violent environment, filled with trafficking, murders, a chaotic universe soaked in alcohol, Petrov loses his footing, no longer knows in which world he lives. Childhood memories rise to the surface and interfere with the present, like bubbles from the past that keep her head above water.

The flu epidemic in Lekaterinburg, which forces Petrov’s wife and son to remain confined, refers to the current pandemic. But before her, it is to the situation of Serebrennikov, prevented from leaving his country, that the film refers (read the interview). The murky universe, always nocturnal, the impression of seeing no exterior, translate an oppressive claustrophobia which transposes into a dystopian fiction the hell that the artist undergoes in his experience of being assigned to residence.

The confusion of worlds in Petrov’s head erupts from the first scene where he takes part in a capital execution. The scene recalls the canvas El tres de mayo by Goya or the film The sacred mountain by Jodorowsky. But the roles are reversed, it is men and women of power who fall under the salvos, not insurgents. And the firing squad is not made up of soldiers, but of gangsters. The role reversal reflects the chaos of the world. But is it real or is it that of a schizophrenic Petrov?

Kirill Serebrennikov films choreographed scenes in long sequences, and the movements are constant in the frame. The soundtrack is screamed, saturated with aggressive rock. We think of Underground of Kusturica with which Petrov’s Fever share the frenzy, but more black. Petrov’s childhood memories are not as reassuring as they seem. Located in the Communist Russia of the 1960s, the USSR therefore, things do not seem to have changed that much, more than fifty years later, and despite the reforms. The politics of Putin – who is never named -, ex-KGB, omnipotent life president, is in the film’s subtext. This is the main lesson of Petrov’s Fever : enclose it in a system within itself, the face of another Russia which also seems eternal, but not always for the better.

Poster of "Petrov's Fever" by Kirill Serebrennikov (2021).  (BAC FILMS)

Kind : Drama
Director : Kirill Serebrennikov
Actors : Semyon Serzin, Chulpan Khamatova, Yuriy Borisov
Country : Russia / France / Switzerland / Germany
Duration : 2h25
Exit : December 1, 2021
Distributer : Bac Films

Synopsis : Weakened by a high fever, Petrov is taken by his friend Igor on a long alcoholic stroll, on the border between dream and reality. Gradually, Petrov’s childhood memories resurface and merge with the present …

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