A 1991 film about a young Russian fascist who discovers he may be half-Jewish, LUNA PARK addresses the rise of right-wing extremism in the former Soviet Union. Director Pavel Lounguine's depiction of a mean, boozy, squalid milieu is memorably visceral, but his vision is weakened by
flaccid story line and a uniformly unappealing cast of characters.
The Cleaners, a gang of young, thuggish neo-fascists, live beside Luna Park, a fairground in Moscow. Gang member Andrei (Andrei Goutine) is a brutish, musclebound skinhead who worships Arnold Schwarzenegger and hates Jews. One night, on a drunken spree, gang-leader Aliona (Natalia Egorova) tells
Andrei that his father is a Jew. Devastated, Andrei breaks into an archival office to retrieve his birth records, but gets busted and turns up nothing. He visits his aunt, who only tells him his father was "a real man." This enrages Andrei, who starts to cut himself with a knife, demanding his
father's identity with each slice of skin. His aunt faints. Out on the rollercoaster at Luna Park, Aliona taunts Andrei about his father: "Either he'll eat you alive or you'll kill him." In the spacious apartment of popular Russian singer-songwriter Naoum (Oleg Borisov), Andrei finds a picture of
his mother on the wall. He confronts the dissipated bohemian, who vaguely recalls the woman in question. Andrei returns to Naoum's apartment drunk. There, he interrupts a television interview, ranting against foreigners, and barges in on a poker game. The players throw him through a window. He
wakes up, swathed in bandages, in a bed with Naoum and seven other people.
Back at Luna Park, Aliona charges that foreigners ruined her singing career and claims she was seduced by Naoum. She demands Andrei bring the old man to the amusement park. Andrei follows Naoum around, watching him provide entertainment at three parties. Naoum accepts the boy as his son and
treats him with kindness. As they head to Luna Park, Andrei's conscience asserts itself. He takes Naoum home, locks him in the apartment, and goes to find a gun to protect the old man. The Cleaners kidnap Naoum, and Andrei rushes to Luna Park. Aliona sends the weak-hearted Naoum on a roller
coaster ride. Andrei rescues him and they hop a train for Siberia. Andrei pulls out a picture and Naoum asks who it is. When Andrei says it's his mother, Naoum starts to laugh hysterically. Soon Andrei joins him.
Director Lounguine (TAXI BLUES) is refreshingly free of illusions about the quality of life and prospects for democracy in post-Soviet Russia, and his portrayal of a Muscovite "blank generation"--aimless, resentful, and potentially very dangerous--is both vivid and persuasive. Less convincing is
Andrei's journey from thug to dutiful son. Goutine, an inexperienced actor, looks the part of a brutal skinhead, but fails to project the presence of hidden qualities that might plausibly lead to his redemption. His neo-fascist pals are equally unsympathetic. The film also suffers from its
meandering story line: as it shuttles between the Cleaners and Naoum's colorful circle of friends and associates, tedium sets in. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: A 1991 film about a young Russian fascist who discovers he may be half-Jewish, LUNA PARK addresses the rise of right-wing extremism in the former Soviet Union. Director Pavel Lounguine's depiction of a mean, boozy, squalid milieu is memorably visceral, but… (more)