Khrustalyov, My Car!
Khroustaliov, ma voiture!
Russia / France 1998
Aleksandr Golutva, Armen Medvedev, Guy Séligmann for Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), Goskino, La Sept Cinéma, Lenfilm, Orimi, Petroagroprombank, Sodaperaga Productions, Vserossiyskaya Gosudarstvennaya Televizionnaya i Radioveshchatelnaya Kompaniya
directed by Aleksey German
starring Yuriy Tsurilo, Nina Ruslanova, Mikhail Dementyev, Aleksandr Bashirov, Natalya Lvova, Dima Davydov, Sergei Dyachkov, Jüri Järvet jr, Ivan Matskevich, Viktor Mikhailov, Paulina Myasnikova, Nijole Narmontaite, Olga Samoshina, Tamara Serkova, Genrietta Yanovskaya
screenplay by Aleksey German, Svetlana Karmalita, based on the story In a Room and a Half by Joseph Brodsky, music by Andrei Petrov
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1953, the Soviet Union: The promise of a better world under Communist
rule has long given way to bitter reality of a people surpressed by the
ruling class, most of the simple folks live in poverty, madness and
alcoholism run rampant, and antisemitism is pretty much mainstream, even
in the highest policical circles - including Soviet strongman Stalin, who
makes up the "Doctors' Plot", a fabricated conspiracy theory
where Jewish doctors plot to take his life, but basically just a ruse to
rid the streets of Jewish intellectuals.
General Klensky (Yuriy Tsurilo)
is not much bothered by this, he's a brilliant brain surgeon, and further
more a high-ranking military man, so he's of the country's elite, and he
lets those he thinks inferior to him feel his superiority, too. But then
he gets somehow tangled up in the (alleged) conspiracy, and the
authorities come after him, forcing him to go on the run and sink to depth
unfathomable for him. Eventually he's taken captive even and gangraped by
fellow captives ... before being saved from a life in misery by the same
authorities that have condemned him, as Stalin's on his deathbed, and his
brain needs to be saved. And if he can do that, his life will be
reinstated to full grandeur - thing is, this is not something that he (or
anyone else) is capable of doing ...
While above synopsis sure
sounds like a straightforward story, the actual film is anything but,
rather it's an allegoric and often Kafka-esque trip through 1950s Soviet
Union, rich with socio-political commentary, downright satire, and even
broad comedy, told in rich, tableau-like pictures somewhat reminiscent of
Federico Fellini at his best (which also goes for the allegoric
storytelling and the broad comedy), making this less of the political
thriller it might sound to be on paper but a dreamlike experience - that
just happens to be rich in political and historical subtext. But that
said, even without much of an idea about the real-life context and
especially the "Doctors' Plot", this is a highly enjoyable movie
in its own, warped way.