From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Apr 10 09:53:46 2016
ALMOST HOLY (CROCODILE GENNADIY) (2015)
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth
***1/2 (out of ****)
Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s,
Ukraine found itself with a problem, that of its growing number of
neglected street kids. The "transition process" left the fledgling
republic's child protection, welfare, and health systems underfunded.
Enter, stage right, Pastor Gennadiy Mohknenko, a fit and charismatic white knight whose controversial tactics of dragging abused and drug-addicted homeless children off the streets of Mariupol are chronicled in "Almost
Holy," an engaging and emotionally-rich documentary feature from director
Steve Hoover ("Blood Brother"). The film's original--and less contentious--title is "Crocodile Gennadiy," a reference to both the
do-gooder reptile of a beloved Russian cartoon that seems to serve as Mohknenko's inspiration, and to "krokodil," an inexpensive yet deadly codeine-laced cocktail that turns a junkie's flesh dark and scaly.
"Crocodile" Gennadiy happily accepts the moniker as he does the
responsibility of superhero, confronting the pharmacies that sell
prescription opiates under the counter and leveraging the media to support
his cause. "It is the duty of the state to stop [the wrongdoer]. And if
the powers don't do it, then the responsibility falls on society. If
society is silent and buries its youth, then the vigilantes come out. Even
if that's not the best option." "Almost Holy" is a powerful, lovingly
filmed, and life-affirming call for reform, with Hoover in complete control
of his medium (which includes a resonant score from "The Social Network"'s Atticus Ross). Whether or not you agree with his subject's unorthodox methods--a Wikipedia article cited in the film, for example, quotes a local diocesan criticism of the collared crusader's motives as "...a search of fame and the desire for power," there's no doubt this Crocodile saves lives.