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A weary war reporter on a three-week furlough from the front finds romance and quiet tragedy behind the lines in Alexei Guerman's beautiful love story.
Long banned and only released after its revered scriptwriter protested, Guerman's beautiful love story offers perhaps the most triumphant instance of the director's casting against type, with famous circus director and comedian Yuri Nikulin taking on the grave role of war-weary military reporter Lopatin, who is given twenty days furlough to recuperate in Tashkent. Set at the end of 1942, when the tide was starting to turn against the Germans, the film offers a subtle and moving portrait of how war affects even those places that seem untouched by it. Lopatin returns the effects of a dead soldier to his widow; visits his own ex-wife, who has started a new life with an older man and who still resents Lopatin's dedication to his writing; and carries on a hesitant affair with a blonde in a ratty fur coat who works as a seamstress on a film that is being made from Lopatin's writings. Full of unforgettable faces, events, and characters — an early monologue on a train is pure tour de force — Twenty Days Without War fully earns that overworked descriptor "Chekhovian" in its richly detailed portrait of provincial desperation.