‘Beanpole’ Review: Breaking News About Greatness

How to rate “Beanpole,” a new Russian drama, with English subtitles, directed by the prodigiously gifted Kantemir Balagov? In motion-picture circles the term “masterpiece” has suffered the same fate as “breaking news” has in the media world; it’s been devalued by repetition. “Touched by greatness” comes close, but—here’s some honest-to-goodness breaking news—“great” without qualification does the trick.

The setting is Leningrad during the first autumn after World War II. The city is in ruins, so it’s understood from the start…

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