A moment, please, for those drowning in the economic miracle that transformed the former Soviet Union from a confederacy of Communist backwaters to a chaotic, freewheeling mess of nations overflowing with opportunity for the young, the bold and the
adaptable. But not for the likes of Anatoli (Alexandre Lazarev), a 35-year-old translator from Ukraine who lacks the stomach for the dog-eat-dog world of no-holds-barred capitalism. His wife Katia (Angelika Nevolina), by contrast, has successfully made the transition from philologist to
advertising executive, as well as to a less morose man. Broke and depressed, Anatoli is feeling just sorry enough for himself that when he runs into an old buddy (Eugen Pachin) with a mess of gangster pals, he secretly arranges to take out a hit on himself. When it doesn't go off as planned,
Anatoli takes a perverse pleasure in his temporary reprieve and goes out to celebrate, meeting in the process a naïve and enthusiastic young prostitute named Lena (Tatiana Krivitska). Lena's guileless, if pragmatic, lust for life makes Anatoli think maybe things aren't so bad after all.
Unfortunately, there's still the matter of that hit man, who can't be called off as easily as he was engaged. Though his film is billed as a black comedy, director Vyacheslav Krishtofovich mostly paints a morose picture of the price of progress, particularly in its incidental images of men flush
with money and flashy suits, their leggy women celebrating the freedom to sell themselves for top dollar and dress in sky-high heels and Dynasty-worthy outfits: Perhaps some uniquely Ukrainian form of humor doesn't survive the subtitles. Or perhaps Anatoli is a rather tiresome protagonist:
It's a little hard to sympathize with his utter inability to cope -- he's not some arthritic babushka -- and after a while wounded eyes and drooping body language begin to feel unpleasantly self-indulgent.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: A moment, please, for those drowning in the economic miracle that transformed the former Soviet Union from a confederacy of Communist backwaters to a chaotic, freewheeling mess of nations overflowing with opportunity for the young, the bold and the adapta… (more)