Monday, April 3, 2017

The Saratov Approach (2013)


Number Rolled: 14
Movie Name/Year: The Saratov Approach (2013)
Tagline: Kidnapped. Ransomed. Delivered.
Genre: Drama
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Saratov Films, Three Coin Productions
Producer: Garrett Batty, Dima Kolchinsky, Maclain Nelson, Jonathan T. Turner, Jake Van Wagoner
Director: Garrett Batty
Writer: Garrett Batty
Actors: Corbin Allred, Maclain Nelson, Nikita Bogolyubov, Alex Veadov, Jennifer Erekson, Bruce Newbold, Peggy Matheson, Paul Mulder, Brett Merritt, Bart Johnson, Shawn Carter, Rocky Myers, Brit Server, Christopher S. Clark
Stunt Doubles: None

Languages
Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: This riveting drama tells the true story of two young American missionaries held captive and brutalized for a week in a remote part of Russia.


Selina’s Point of View:
On first glance, this film feels very heavy-handed with religion. Then you realize it’s about a true story of two Mormons that were kidnapped on a mission – how exactly could that story be told without being heavy-handed with religion? It can’t. Mormons are a very religious people and, in such a dire situation, they would undoubtedly turn to that faith in order to get them through it.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not religious, which is an understatement. My beliefs revolve around science on a level that makes it near impossible for me to believe in the afterlife or God or anything along those lines. I don’t identify as an atheist, simply agnostic.

What I do believe is that religion can be significantly important to people. Not just as a guide, but as a catalyst of finding hope. Blind faith isn’t something I condone, but faith enough to breed hope and love into a world filled with darkness and hate… that is necessary.

The Saratov Approach delves into the faith of two Mormon Elders that were kidnapped and how they used the connection to their religion to make choices that altered the direction events took during their crisis.


Due to the fact that I’m able to appreciate religion, despite my difficulty believing, I found that I was intrigued by the story of Elder Tuttle and Elder Propst. Where others might see prayer as having been a factor in certain aspects of the story, however, I see quick thinking and ingenuity as the deciding factor of certain events. (I can’t be more specific, sorry. Spoilers.)

I felt that the film did a decent job of telling the story of the Elders, even though it did get a touch preachy at certain times. When it was preachy, however, that was because it fit the story. Anything less than that probably wouldn’t have gotten the point across.

Corbin Allred (Anywhere but Here, Diamonds, Robin Hood Men in Tights), Maclain Nelson (Dudes & Dragons, Repo, Diantha’s Crossing), and Nikita Bogolyubov (Riot, Escape from Tomorrow, Iron Fist) were all very good in their roles. I was impressed with Allred and Nelson all the way through, but it wasn’t until the end that I really took notice of Bogolyubov. A few scenes at the end of the film really brought the spotlight onto his character, Nikolai, and he was able to make me understand his motives, even sympathize – a difficult feat when one is playing a villain.

The Saratov Approach was a good film; not perfect, but good. I don’t know if I’d watch it again, but it’s not really my kind of film. Dramas that don’t cross genres don’t tend to do it for me. For people who enjoy religious dramas, however, this is one they would definitely want to see.


Cat’s Point of View:
Wow.

That’s really one word that sums this movie up for me. This review is really going to be short and sweet because I honestly can’t think of anything negative to say at the moment.

The Saratov Approach was a powerful film. There was a good mix of musical score and story content so that everything was elevated. Corbin Allred (Saints and Soldiers, The Wild Stallion, Granite Flats) and Maclain Nelson (One Good Man, Orcs!, Waffle Street) were believable in their missionary roles. They were portraying a pair of men in a terrifying and testing situation that didn’t lose faith – and I think they pulled it off well.


The subtitles for the parts in Russian were even in glorious yellow to offset against the movie.

I feel like I should remember these events from apparently during the Clinton administration, but sadly I don’t. One would think something like this would make a mark on memory – mine is just fickle sometimes. All the same, the fact that this is based on a true story makes it even more hard-hitting and chilling for what those young men had to go through.

This is definitely a movie that’s worth seeing. I would gladly recommend it, even if I’m not sure I’d watch it again just because religious hostage drama just generally isn’t my thing. It’s worth a mention that while I was watching, it was profound enough that I didn’t mind.


Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 86%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Movie Trailer:

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