I have a soft spot for any movie that begins with a camera moving quickly over deep, dark water. Yes, it is yet another Dr. Zhivago style epic spanning decades and playing against extreme political circumstances but it has lots of cool open water shots going for it. In 1936 Stalin extended an invitation to all exiled Russians to return to the Soviet Union if they so wished. Marie has just traveled to Odessa from her native France with husband Alexei to find that the glorious new Russian regime is in fact a bitter dictatorship. They are not even off the boat before the first murder occurs before their eyes and it’s just downhill from there. The shifting political allegiances are almost as common as the romantic betrayals and revelations in this film by Indochine director Wargnier. It is certainly an interesting story that is well told, well acted, well photographed but where is the heart that was so plentiful in “All About My Mother,” its fellow nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars? East West is a fine achievement as far as recreations of historical events goes but I just couldn’t get wrapped up in the characters. Perhaps the extreme circumstances portrayed in the movie were just too far from my own experiences, but this didn’t keep me from loving Schindler’s List. Extreme circumstance can happen to anyone but only a truly insightful director or writer could make these situations applicable to my own life. See it for the beautiful shots of the water and for the vision of a man swimming through swelling waves in deep, dark waters, oh – and Catherine Deneuve, still icy as ever.