Monday, October 5th, 2020

Andrew Hebden reviews The Wanderings of Ivan : from begging and theft to thuggery.


There is an awful lot of wandering about in the 1 hour and 15 mins of this Claude Chamis film and ultimately it leads nowhere. However Chamis almost manages to get away with it by a softly teasing appreciation of beauty that pulls the viewer in further and longer than a less discerning perspective would.

It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the last scene of the movie uses the quote “I must admit I was unable to build a story with these events” because within the first 15 minutes of the movie it is evident that there will be no real narrative thrust. Instead the viewer backpacks along with Ivan as he makes his way from the urban streets of Paris out into the fecundity of nature.

Ivan (Aram Arakelyan) is living on the streets after leaving his childhood home of Russia. With no money he falls into petty criminality. The progression in the movie is how his misdeeds start to snowball as his desperation increases. He goes from begging and theft to thuggery. Leaving the streets of Paris does not make his life easier as it turns out there is just as much vice in the country.

The entire film is oddly lacking in action despite the moments of violence. Full of exposition, literary quotes and stunning shots of nature times begins to stand still. When something happens it is brief and disconnected. A snapshot captured within his wanderings. Enough to keep you watching but definitely not enough to get you excited.

Beauty almost saves the film. Whether it is the caressing visions of the natural world or the casting of the tousled prettiness of Ivan, Chamis squeezes the juice just as the overall dryness of the story starts to parch the throat. Ivan has few saving graces other than the ability to make the eye linger on his physical assets rather than his actions. Disney villains should take heed and do more abs at the gym. 

In the end the wandering are a little too slow and pointless to make this a winner. It is an effort to keep going. If you do it will be because the scenery is quite lovely on the way.


(The Wanderings of Ivan can be streamed on Amazon Prime & Dekkoo)


Queerguru Contributing Editor ANDREW HEBDEN is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.

Posted by queerguru  at  14:52

Genres:  drama

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