It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
It's said that you can't make an effective anti-war film because war by its nature is exciting, and the end of the film belongs to the survivors. No one would ever make the mistake of saying that about Elem Klimov's "Come and See." This 1985 film from Russia is one of the most devastating films ever about anything, and in it, the survivors must envy the dead.
The film begins with an ambiguous scene, as a man calls out commands to invisible others on a beach. Who is he? Who is he calling to? Why is he fed up with them? It's revealed that he's calling out to children who have concealed themselves among the reeds. They are playing games of war, and digging in the sand for weapons concealed or lost during some earlier conflict.
We meet them. Florya, perhaps 14, lives nearby with his family. It is 1943, Hitler's troops are invading the Soviet republic of Byelorussia, and Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko) dreams of becoming a heroic partisan and defending his homeland. He wants to leave home and volunteer. His family forbids him. But as events unfold, he leaves, is accepted in a fighting unit, forced to change his newer shoes with a veteran's worn-out ones and is taken under the wing of these battle-weary foot soldiers.
He is still young. He seems younger than his years in early scenes, and much, much older in later ones. At first he is eager to do a good job; posted as a sentry, told to fire on anyone who doesn't know the password, he challenges a girl scarcely older than he is. He does not shoot her; indeed, he never shoots anybody. They grow friendly. Glasha (Olga Mironova), innocent and warm, dreams of her future. Florya is not articulate and may be mentally slow, but he is touched.