Vlast (Power) | Film review
A doc on Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky treats him like the hero in an Ayn Rand novel.
A classy, New Yorker essay–ish outrage doc, Collins’s film is a high-minded history lesson in the dogfight between post-Soviet capitalism and Russia’s new political pooh-bahs, as it’s been fought over the last two decades. The focus—and Collins uses him like the hero in an Ayn Rand novel—is oligarch king Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil magnate who during the ’90s became the richest man in the nation and eventually ran afoul of Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to own or run every damn thing in Russia. Not incidentally a Jew and blessed with vibrant movie-star good looks, Khodorkovsky was eventually arrested on trumped-up charges and sent to Siberia, his massive share of the country’s largest petroleum concern privately sold off to Putin’s old KGB buddies.
He’s still behind bars; on May 31, his case failed in the European Court of Human Rights. But despite Collins’s efforts to heroize the man as an idealistic nationalist, he only seems to have received a measure of comeuppance. (This is not a tale of assassinated journalists, but of a semi-shady billionaire, who scarcely could have become the mega-oligarch by being George Bailey.) The entire travail merely demonstrates that the Soviet terror state lives on beneath the roiling chaos of Putin’s market economy. But you knew that already.