Those eager to compare the Obama administration to a Communist dictatorship might check out this story based on the memoirs of the poet Evgenia Ginzburg (Emily Watson), the closing-night film of the Boston Jewish Film Festival, to see what the real thing was like. In 1934, Ginzburg, a dedicated Communist, was reaping the rewards of party loyalty: a university post, a loving husband and two sons, a nice apartment in the Worker’s Paradise.
When close colleagues start getting arrested, she says, “I’m sure they know what they’re doing.” When a friend’s husband is denounced, she wonders aloud what she’d do in the friend’s place.
She doesn’t have long to wait. Stalin’s stooges accuse her of Kafka-esque crimes, whereupon she folds under brutal interrogation and signs a confession that earns her a 10-year sentence in the gulag. Director Marleen Gorris (Antonia’s Line) conveys the frozen horrors with searing understatement, and Watson’s Ginzburg evokes suffering, dignity, and strength.