Ali is an upper class Muslim man, whose family holds a great deal of power in Baku, Azerbaijan. At that time, before World War One, Azerbaijan was part of the Russian Empire. Nino, Ali's lover, is from neighboring Georgia and is Christian, but the two are deeply in love and elope to the countryside. The story follows the two, who get married, through World War One, which only sees some of Ali's friends sent off to war. After the Russians surrender, however, conflict comes to Baku. Ali fights the Bolsheviks with the Azerbaijani militia and Nino helps nurse wounded soldiers during the March Days massacre in Baku.Written by
Strong story, beautiful directing, talented team of actors. This is a very solid historical drama which will appeal not only to patriotic Azerbaijanis but to all genre lovers.
Historical Baku was really well recreated. The shots of historical part of Baku and Caucasus mountains are gorgeous- this paired with splendid costumes make "Ali and Nino" visually a very beautiful movie. Asif Kapadia is an Oscar winning director and you can easily feel it in the movie as directing quality certainly above the average.
The cast is very multinational: Palestinian Arab Adam Bakri seems believable as a son of Azerbaijani khan. Spanish Maria Valverde is charming as Nino and easily evokes from viewers sympathy.
The culture of the East was well shown in the movie, revolution and fight for independence scenes, despite of low budget, are well executed- impressive and tragic as they should be. The last scene on the bridge is wonderful and definitely will burst a lot of people to tears.
My only concern is that movie is really short- only 1.5 hours. Way too little to show such a complicated time period of Azerbaijani history (overthrowal of monarchy and fight for democratic independent republic). You just cannot help but wish for story to slow down and take its time to show more details, maybe add more characters and make it much more than just Ali and Nino story.
But that little what was shown was great as well. Hopefully BBC will watch this movie one day and extend it to miniseries because story still has so much in it and it is definitely too good to be told in such fast and general manner.
It potentially could be a second "Gone with the Winds". But it wasn't due to short length and somewhat shallow portrayal of Eastern culture and historical background. But it is a very strong historical drama movie anyways. Beautifully shot and most importantly- it has a heart. It will bring you smile, test your nerves, brig tears- and sometimes all at once in one scene.
If you are familiar with Azerbaijan only via Eurovision and recent European Olympic games, I definitely recommend to watch this movie. It is a great opportunity to get familiar with early stages of Azerbaijani Democratic Republic formation and to grasp heart and soul of the nation.
10 out 10
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