The precedent-shattering TAXI BLUES, helmed by screenwriter-turned-director Pavel Lounguine, is a wrenching, prolonged study in impotence and frustration.
Schlikov (Pyotr Zaitchenko) is a solidly working-class Russian taxi driver, racist and largely friendless, with the burly build of a bully. Liocha (Piotr Nikolajevitch Mamonov) is a flamboyant, self-destructive Jewish jazz musician. When Liocha stiffs Schlikov for a 70-ruble fare one drunken
evening, Schlikov tracks him down, beats him up and takes his saxophone. However, Schlikov is sufficiently intrigued by Liocha to offer him vodka and a bed in his flat--much to the anger of Schlikov's neighbor, the rabidly anti-Semitic Netchiporenko (Vladimir Kachpour).
Shot in Moscow over a four-month period in 1989, with the flowering of perestroika already showing signs of blight and the crumbling of the Soviet Union soon to come, TAXI BLUES proved a rude shock to the struggling Russian film establishment.
Lounguine, who also wrote the screenplay, has described his style here as "extremist" and the story as autobiographical. The film has some of the narrative looseness of the French New Wave, as well as plenty of that movement's characteristic handheld camerawork. Although Lounguine has termed it a
comedy, Westerners will find it only occasionally amusing. To its credit, the film, styled mostly as a two-character study, never falters into an "Odd Couple"-style formula. Both characters, as superbly played by Zaitchenko and Mamonov (whom Lounguine calls "the oldest Russian rock star, mythical
in Moscow for his excesses") are equally disagreeble, making audience identification nearly impossible. The excesses of both are delineated in long, boisterous, often ugly scenes (including a rape) that seem to verge on escaping directorial control.
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: NR
- Review: The precedent-shattering TAXI BLUES, helmed by screenwriter-turned-director Pavel Lounguine, is a wrenching, prolonged study in impotence and frustration. Schlikov (Pyotr Zaitchenko) is a solidly working-class Russian taxi driver, racist and largely frien… (more)