11 June 2012 | 3:02 pm | Ian Barr

Alexander Sokurov's Faust is a film of wildly contradictory. Often unpalatable aesthetic choices, tones, and textures. It's announced in the first few minutes, that depicts a digitally-created/enchanced village and the surrounding mountain terrain, from what feels like the perspective of a feather floating from the sky, before dissolving into a closeup of the penis of a gutted cadaver. Pubes, blood and coarse flesh are all rendered in crisp digital imagery – ie, an omniscient, godlike perspective giving way to a grotesque immersion in the corporeal. Then there's the boxy, old-fashioned 4:3 frame containing images of razor-sharp digital precision, the uber-theatrical performances and dialogue captured across a fluidly steadicam'd space in constant flux… it feels as if Sokurov's used Goethe's text as strictly a rudimentary springboard to freak his formal funk, considering how willfully inert the film's threadbare drama remains. But the sense that Sokurov knows what he's doing is pervasive, and for all the film's many tedious stretches. It resonates effectively as a film dreamt rather than watched.