Navalny (2022)

navalny poster 2022 movie documentary
8.0 Overall Score

Catching the scientist in a lie

Nevalny working with Alt-Right and White Nationalists

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Navalny

Studio:  CNN Films/HBO Max/Fishbowl Films

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 25, 2022 (Sundance)/April 11, 2022 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

navalny alexei documentary hbo

Fight or flight?

Alexei Navalny’s a man with a target on his back.  As a chief opponent of Vladimir Putin, he’s faced jail, exile, and attempts on his life.  Now, Navalny is headed back to Russia for what could be the last time as he faces arrest in returning.  As Navalny prepares for his trip, he explores how he got there and what he hopes for his country.

Directed Daniel Roher, Navalny is a political documentary.  Produced by HBO Max and CNN Films, the film premiered at Sundance and streamed on HBO.  The film received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

A lot of the Navalny drama took place during lockdown…and like many people I kind of curled up in a ball and disconnected during this time.  While I was aware of stuff going on, it is a good reminder of how the world didn’t just stop during COVID…and Navalny was in his most dangerous time.

navalny alexei calls assassins

I hate it when you have to call up your would be assassins to find out why they failed…

The documentary is bookend by Navalny planning and going through with his return to Russia.  It is filled out with the assassination attempt on his life and Navalny attempts to prove that the agents of Putin are behind the attack.  As he and his team seek answers, you get one of the worst episodes of Punked with Navalny tricking agents into telling him the truth of the attack by impersonating one of Putin’s men.  It is shocking that it worked (and probably cost the man his life).

While it is largely pro-Navalny, it does ask some questions of him.  Navalny is asked about his ties and support by White-Nationals and Alt-Right in Russia.  Navalny answer is a bit along the lines of Donald Trump in that he “believes the ends justify the means” and by bringing in the bad of Russia, it can be the only way to save Russia…this both makes sense but is also a horrible take.  While he kind of denounces the racists supporting him, he also seems to take it back.

navalny alexei in prison ending

Things are not good for Navalny…but he knew they wouldn’t be

The movie is rather standard fare in its presentation.  It involves one-on-one interviews with Navalny in a set location mixed with footage of him and his family and footage of his team seeking answers.  It is current history which is often tough to cover, and Roher tries to give the last minute update with footage of Navalny in jail after his return…but time continues and so does his story.

Navalny is an important film in that it shows how Putin’s Russia works.  While I do think most major powers do shady stuff, you don’t always get to see it.  I think the U.S. and Russia both do things that the people of the countries would be ashamed of but we rarely get to see it put out front…Navalny is a flawed “hero”, but he is fighting a battle that many aren’t willing to fight.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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