When you want to help young men escape forced conscription in the Red Army, you must get ready to face the consequences with NKVD and KGB. Antons Juhnevics, a rural Catholic priest, who, in the wake of the second Soviet occupation, does something not every priest would do: helping young Latvians to escape forced call in the red army. He hopes that this fight will be over with the end of the World War II, and perhaps, after that, the Soviet will leave Latvia. But how could have a man ever predict that the Soviet will live for seventy long years, and that the fight he puts himself in is useless?
Normunds Pucis’ ALIAS LONER is based on a true story and set in 1945 is a black-and-white docudrama which creates a perfect atmosphere for you to be transported to the era most of Latvians would love to forget. Film begins with the fight of soviet soldiers against partisans coming out of the forest. And that battle will be the only one celebrated by Latvian partisans who resist against Soviet occupation. And this is when Antons Juhnevics comes to the picture as a controversial figure, who calls people to resist the Soviet occupation and help others to escape forced entry to the army.
In spite of being dramatized with the help of actors, the film itself is more like a documentary film where the voice begins with the camera narrating you the events that leads Juhnevics to be surrounded by KGB, which he does willingly. Meantime, you meet some other important figures that help create an Alias Loner and many others that will help continue the fight of “the forest brothers”. Meantime, the archival footages, and superb score written by internationally acclaimed Latvian composer, Rihards Dubra will help to build the docudrama the way that will assist you to follow the story better.
ALIAS LONER is a film that’s not made for everyone, and only a few will appreciate the director’s attempt to emphasize one of the most important events that occurred in his country. The camera work is tremendous, moving slowly which is perfect for the movie shot in black-and-white. There is no red herring or anything else that would have taken your attention to something else other than being concentrated on the plot itself. Moreover, the film perfectly narrates that it is never possible to join an unequal fight against the big bear, which in this case, is the Soviet Union and their desire to repress anyone who would go against them. Antons Juhnevics will realise it soon that the war he put himself in won’t bring benefits to anyone, however, that realisation comes to him too late to help him to escape repression.