Review: Infinity According to Florian

Written and directed by Oleksiy Radynski, Florian Yuriev was a painter who developed a whole theory of color and musicality. He was an architect whose most famous creation was also used as a movie hall, and was designed to host what he called Light Theatre performances. As a true man of the 20th century, he did, of course, shoot films – yet without ever feeling the need to finish them.

Undoubtedly Florian Yuriev was an intensely passionate man, fervently committed to his work both those in progress and those completed decades before. His ideas are intensely creative and unusual, and his enthusiasm for them is enjoyable to watch. However, all of that energy doesn’t translate well into the film, the way that it moves doesn’t capitalize on it. It moves in a slow, slightly repetitive manner, using a lot of different speeches which feel overtly similar, and resulting in a lack of forward momentum.

It is a fairly dry topic to begin with, attempting to stop the demolition or changes to a beloved piece of architecture. Although with it is a disdain for real estate titans, attempting to walk all over the little guys and trounce over cultural history, then apologise by throwing money at them after the fact. You’d expect a larger energy or rage even would go along with that but unfortunately not. It does gradually create a villain of the piece, but there isn’t a lot of information to really develop an understanding of his impact and larger persona.

Similarly the way that the visual is styled follows a very everyday, even mundane aesthetic. Granted, it’s hard to inject colour when working with a lot of grey buildings but at the same time, the entire palette is affected by that. Meaning that again, it can’t match the passion that Yuriev demonstrates, and begins to undercut it instead.

Additionally, it misses out on creating a wider perspective, it’s entirely focused on this fight to save a piece of Yuriev’s work, without really giving a view into the rest of it. It doesn’t feel as though he ever gets a true introduction, the dips into his other work are minimal, and it’s hard to get a bigger grasp on Yuriev as a whole. It would have potentially helped elevate the atmosphere and add a variety to occasionally step away from the key fight to pepper the film with more backstory.

Infinity According to Florian takes on the idea of cultural significance and history being ignored and destroyed by corporations and real estate titans, but never quite embraces the battle. It has a dry, serious nature which doesn’t feel entirely matched to the very creative, colourful persona of Florian Yuriev. It lacks drive and energy, with a muted palette and a fairly repetitive flow to this intensely specific story, it struggles to make a lasting impression.

Verdict: ✯✯ | 4/10

Reviewed as part of Sheffield DocFest 2022

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