Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Saratov Approach Review

During the BYU vs. Utah game back in September, I was sitting in LaVell Edwards Stadium watching the game when, during a break, a trailer came on for the Saratov Approach. The premise of the movie immediately intrigued me and so a few weeks after it came out, I finally got around to seeing it. I came out of the movie super inspired, wanting to share it with and recommend it to everyone I see and talk to. So here I am! Yes, it's an LDS-based movie, but in my opinion it's a movie that really can appeal to everyone, so I highly recommend you give it a shot.

The Saratov approach is the true story of Elder Trevor Tuttle and Elder Andrew Propst as they were kidnapped and held for ransom while serving an LDS mission in Russia. A lot of historically-based movies take creative liberties in making the movie appealing to the masses, but how accurate is this one? In an interview, Elder Tuttle himself said, "The story is 100 percent accurate." More of that interview of the two Elders can be read right here. This to me is really impressive and thus much praise has to be given to director and writer Garrett Batty. No, it's not a secret how things turn out since the missionaries are around to do an interview, show up at the aforementioned football game, and help promote the movie. But that's not the point of the movie. It's not a "what happens at the end" type of movie, it's a "what happens as you go along" type of movie. Meaning the journey the Elders go through and the lessons they learn along the way are what this movie is about.

Yes, the movie is really intense at times, especially when lead kidnapper Sergei is around. This warrants the PG-13 rating. But in addition to the tense scenes, the movie is super emotional, super inspirational, and super spiritual. Movies have never made me cry. In general, I'm just not a super emotional person as far as that goes. But this is one of those movies that got me close, so if you are one that is more emotional than I am, remember to bring your box of tissues because there are several scenes that will break you. In terms of the inspirational and spiritual aspect of the movie, I'm not going to dive into those specifics right here because it would mean spoiling a lot of the movie, but if you have seen the movie, come talk to me because I have so much to say. There are countless lessons that this movie teaches, and I think that makes this movie really beautiful. I'll definitely be referring to this movie a lot in my life down the road.

In addition to having a beautiful message, what also makes this movie brilliant is that it excels in many movie-making categories like music, lighting, cinematography, and more. But right at the top of that list is the acting. The two Elders are played by Corbin Allred and Maclain Nelson and those two are just amazing. Before the kidnapping, they do a great job of portraying honest, everyday missionary life. As a person who has served a mission, I appreciated all the little things like the fact that for one of them it was their year mark and he was burning a shirt. And after they got kidnapped, they did a great job of portraying the emotions that they would've been going through during those five days. Also doing a great job was the two kidnappers Nikita Bogolyubov (Nikita) and Alex Veadov (Sergei). And of course we have the always great Bruce Newbold, who somehow manages to show up in just about ever LDS-themed movie. If you don't recognize the name, all I have to do is say that he plays Thomas in Finding Faith in Christ and the light will turn on in your head. In this movie, Newbold plays Elder Propst's father.

If there was one complaint about the movie, it would be the excessive use of the shaky-cam style. Personally, this doesn't bother me as I think it adds to the intensity of the movie, especially when they are getting attacked initially, but I do know that some people have a zero-tolerance for this. If you are one of those people, you probably won't like this as much as I did, but overall I think this is a fantastic, uplifting, inspiring movie. I highly recommend this to everyone even if you aren't LDS. And thanks to some record-breaking numbers for this type of movie ($500,000 in it's first couple of weeks in 24 Utah theaters), it has expanded to areas in Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii and will expand to even more nationwide audiences in early December, so you may not have to wait for the DVD to come out to see it if you don't live in Utah. My grade for the movie is 9 out of 10. Definitely one of my favorites from this year.

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