Violent, distant and masterfully told. The Ukrainian war film Reflection is all of this in its depiction of a conflict that is still ongoing, which forces the viewer to be confronted with the reality of the situation and the consequences of the violence.

November 2014. Russia has annexed Crimea, and there is a full-blown conflict between Ukrainian and Russian troops. Ukrainian surgeon Serhiy enlists in the army, but is quickly captured by the Russians. He is held captive and subjected to torture and humiliation, before eventually being given the task to look after others who have been tortured or killed.

Reflection does not show us battle scenes from the front lines, but brings forward the atrocities that go on behind the scenes of war. Violence, interrogation, lack of compassion and relentless bureaucracy reign, and Serhiy is just a piece in a big puzzle. This is not a film for the faint of heart. The depictions of violence are close and brutal, and the camera never shies away from the horror. It is also brilliantly directed, with fluid camera movements and well-composed tableaux, and a larger story that not only depicts the impact of the war on individuals, but on society as a whole.


Valentyn Vasyanovych (b. 1971) is a Ukrainian director. His films Black Level (2017) and Atlantis (2019) were selected as the Ukrainian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards. Reflection was shown in the main competition at the 78th Venice International Film Festival.


2019 Atlantis
2017 Riven chornoho / Black Level
2013 Kredens
2012 Zvychayna sprava / Business as Usual

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