Loss by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932 – 2017)

Russia has lost Russia in Russia.

Russia searches for itself

like a cut finger in the snow,

a needle in a haystack,

like an old blind woman madly stretching her hand in fog,

searching with hopeless incantation for her lost milk cow.

 

We buried our icons.

We didn’t believe in our own great books.

We fight only with alien grievances.

 

Is it true we didn’t survive under our own yoke,

becoming for ourselves worse than foreign enemies?

Is it true that we are doomed to live only in the silk

nightgown of dreams, eaten by moths? –

Or in numbered prison robes?

 

Is it true that epilepsy is our national character?

Or convulsions of pride?

Or convulsions of self-humiliation?

Ancient rebellions against new copper kopeks,

againsy such foreign fruits as potatoes are

now only a harmless dream.

 

Today’s rebellion swamps the entire Kremlin

like a mortal tide –

Is it true that we Russians have only one unhappy choice?

The ghost of Tsar Ivan the Terrible?

Or the ghost of Tsar Chaos?

So many imposters. Such ‘imposterity’.

 

Everyone is a leader, but no one leads.

We are confused as to which banners and

slogans to carry.

And such a fog in our heads

that everyone is wrong

and everyone is guilty in everything.

 

We already have walked enough in such fog,

in blood up to our knees.

Lord, you’ve already punished us enough.

Forgive us, pity us.

 

Is it true we no longer exist?

Or are we not yet born?

We are birthing now,

but it’s so painful to be born again.

 

by Евгений Александрович Евтушенко

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko (18 July 1932 – 1 April 2017)

Потеря / Loss – first published 13 March 1991

translation by James Ragan and Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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Wałęsa. Człowiek z nadziei [Walesa, Man of Hope] 2013 film

A 2013 Polish biopic film about the leader of the trade union Solidarity movement (and later president of Poland) Lech Walesa by Andrzej Wajda. The film was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but was not nominated. Recently, on 10/01/2017, this film was shown on BBC4.

Synopsis:

Lech Wałęsa, an electrician at the Gdańsk Shipyards, participated in local demonstrations during the 1970s which became violent and left their mark on him after he returned to his daily routine. Ten years later, a new uprising occurred and unexpectedly became a charismatic leader of the Polish dockworkers.

Wałęsa’s leadership role signifies the beginning of a new movement that successfully overcomes the country’s Communist regime, and Wałęsa is pushed into representing the majority of Poland’s population. The Soviet Union authorities, previously regarded as too powerful to be confronted, eventually tolerate existence of the movement a degree. However he is at one point taken from his home in the middle of the night by Soviet officials to an unknown location. On their journey there they pass a road and Lech declares that the people will support him but his escort laugh at this and tell him to open his window and ask the people themselves. On the roadside are some poor farmers who tell him they hate him and he has done nothing to help them. At the interrogation location he is fed and openly shows defiance to the authorities before being eventually released when it’s clear they will get nothing from him. Later we see his wife accepting the Nobel peace prize on his behalf in 1983 as he believed if he left the country he would not be allowed back in.

The film ends on a note of Soviet members saying they will get him and Wałęsa being left unchallenged by opponents. The Polish example of the group Solidarity causes a domino effect throughout Eastern Europe. People in Eastern Germany follow the Polish example, starting demonstrations for freedom which achieves a peaceful reunification of Germany. The Soviet Union then dissolved alongside Yugoslavia.

In the epilogue we are told that while Europe is reshaped, Poland remains stable and peaceful. Yet a huge variety of political parties unfold and Poland is on the brink of becoming as ungovernable as the late Weimar Republic. Wałęsa is subsequently elected as the first president of the new Polish democracy; but, this is followed by feelings of resentment among the Polish people who start to think that Wałęsa is becoming overly privileged. Consequently, the Polish people start to seek out ways to diminish Wałęsa’s significance, until they finally accomplish their goal through uncovering actions from a past period.

Cast:
Robert Więckiewicz as Lech Wałęsa
Agnieszka Grochowska as Danuta Wałęsa
Zbigniew Zamachowski as Nawiślak
Maria Rosaria Omaggio as Oriana Fallaci
Cezary Kosiński as Majchrzak
Mirosław Baka as Klemens Gniech
Iwona Bielska as Ilona, Wałęsa’s neighbour
Maciej Stuhr as Priest
Małgorzata Zajączkowska as Shop assistant
Marcin Hycnar as KOR member Rysiek
Dorota Wellman as Henryka Krzywonos
Adam Woronowicz as Tadeusz Fiszbach
Marcin Perchuć as Instruktor
Ewa Kuryło as Anna Walentynowicz
Arkadiusz Detmer as Malinowski
Mateusz Kościukiewicz as Krzysiek
Piotr Probosz as Mijak
Ewa Kolasińska as Shipyard worker
Michał Czernecki
Remigiusz Jankowski as Shipyard worker
Wojciech Kalarus as Chairman
Maciej Marczewski as KOR member
Maciej Konopiński as SB agent
Marcel Głogowski as Bogdan Wałęsa (aged 8–10)
Wiktor Malinowski as Jarosław Wałęsa (aged 3–5)
Kamil Jaworski as Przemysław Wałęsa (aged 5–7)
Jakub Świderski as Ludwik Prądzyński
Bogusław Kudłek as Bogdan Borusewicz
Michał Meyer as Jerzy Borowczak
Grzegorz Małecki as UB agent
Ewa Konstancja Bułhak as Customs official
Damian Jagusz as soldier

Review:
Be honest – if you read that synopsis and didn’t think ‘this is propaganda’ then your not being critical. This is a view you must take with any biographical works as inevitably there will be a bias present no matter the intent. Either the subject themselves, in the case of autobiographies, is editting the truth in order to better fit their personal self image or intentionally presenting an image they wish to be accepted as true or, in third party works, you are viewing the events through the perception of someone interpreting their subject for better or worse. It reminds me about someone who once told me they only read biographies because they deal in reality while fiction is just make believe. For such people this film will be accepted at face value.

Andrzej Wajda is a freind of Lech Wałęsa and so there is inevitably a bias. This film romanticises events in favour of depicting Lech Walesa as a man of the people who never did anything questionable. It is a love letter to him displaying his defiant, outspoken behaviour and being seen to be rarely challenged successfully in his opposition to the Soviet era establishment. It is highly romanticised not in it’s imagery, as Wadja’s style is distinctly realist and unsensational (barring a few concessions to cinematic flare), but in how we are presented Lech’s personality, showing him often making political statements and being in control of any enviroment he is in – even when he is taken by the secret police from his family to be interrogated.

Many scenes of the film include achive footage in which the faces of the actors are superimposed onto the footage of the person they are playing. Due to the low quality of the footage in compariosn to modern high definition imagery this is done quite effectively although I would wonder if it feels jarring for those familiar with the real life individuals and this footage in its original form. Apart from this we have dramatisations of Lech’s personal life which presumably has been sourced from multiple accounts to create as close to the actual events as possible – or maybe it’s just from Lech’s perspective and therefore favours his interpretation of events.

In the final third of the film, once he is held by the Soviet authorities, all we have is speculation based on his personal accounts of events. My issue with this? In most of this film we have the intergration of modern and contemporary footage (with the actor’s faces placed over those of the actual historical figures they play) which lends itself to making us unable to distinguish which parts are fact and which parts are further along the sliding scale of fact towards we accept as ‘historical fact’.

What I mean by this is we can only base our knowledge on the accounts given by people of the time and any evidence we are able to establish. History is only what we are told happened and which re-enforces the oft cited cliche ‘the victor writes history’ as we are discovering, time and time again, when historians go back to events long ago and uncover new evidence that the previously accepted ‘truth’ is not what actually happened but was a biased interpretations of events from the perspective of one side.

Why note this distinction between fact and historical fact? This film is doing its best to establish Wałęsa’s legacy as an unquestionably noble figure who did no wrong in his lifetime to achieve his goals and yet there is a challenge to such a perception of him nowadays. Recently Wałęsa has faced accussations of colluding with the Soviet government which he vehemently denies despite growing evidence to the contrary. In the closing minutes of the film we see his interrorgaters comment, to almost cartoonish effect, they will ‘get him later’. This moment works to make the audience also refute any later accusations of collusion they will hear including those currently being discussed in light of new evidence. After all who do we believe – the Soviet authorities who are well known to have used certain methods and obscured the reality of events often or this idealised man of the people?

Further to the cartoonishly villainous declaration of revenge we are given a brief summary, via text on the screen, relaying what occurred after the events depicted. One of these asserts that because of Wałęsa’s actions, and the rise of the Solidarity group, Poland led other Eastern Bloc nations towards rebelling against Soviet control and thus were key in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This film presented an oversimplification of historical events regarding the downfall of the Soviet Union in it’s closing moments by suggesting Wałęsa’s actions, singlehandedly, began the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were a great many other world events and internal problems within the Soviet union which led to its downfall so this film, as I have already mentioned, acts as propaganda attempting to secure the legacy of Wałęsa as one of the great historical figures in the history not just of Poland, which has been so hard fought for throughout the centuries by its citizens, but of the world.

He comes across as a historical figure not a man in this film. An image not a living person similar to how canonised saints are depicted. We have seen this time and time again in biopics which cherrypick what is depicted, how it is depicted and perhaps this is why I tend to avoid watching them because ultimately what we are watching is personality propaganda and not a fair account of the individual’s life. Rarely are such films a fair representation of what actually occurred let alone the unblemished, and sometimes unpalatable, truth. Often they instead iconise their subject either as hero or villain.

A caricature who is defined as representing some noble cause and whose example (of their mythos, not their reality) we should follow, is presented to the audience and we are asked to accept it blindly. There are too many examples of biopics being more fiction than fact but that is something to discuss another day. What is safe to say is that the actions of characters in the film must fit the narrative even if it warps the character of the real life person. Examples I can give off the top of my head are First Officer William Murdoch’s depiction in the 1997 film Titanic and of Vivian Liberto Cash in 2005’s Walk The Line both of whom were depicted negatively to enhance the focus narrative without thought to real world events.

Secondary to depictions of Wałęsa are those of the Italian reporter Oriana Fallaci, who is interviewing him as part of the film’s framing device. She is also somewhat of a caricature of the real life person and the choice for her to be used is itself indicative of Wadja’s intentions. Here she is depicted as the classic image all journalists wish to be seen as. Partisan yet invested. Distant yet intimate with their subject. Taking a stand against perceived injustices in the world yet never personally being involved (or indeed effected by it save, as journalist’s often do to create repore in hopes of exposing weakness in their subject, to express a few half hearted suggestions of sympathy – but never empathy). To be objective though they edit what they write and thus can never truly ignore their own experiences in life thus fostering an image which often overshadows the subject they cover. A journalist’s journalist.

The real life Fallaci often came into conflict with Muslims regarding her outspoken criticism of communities both in the East and West while she maintained an aloof air of superiority over them both. During her 1972 interview with Henry Kissinger, Kissinger stated that the Vietnam War was a “useless war” and compared himself to “the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse”. Kissinger later claimed that it was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press”. In 1973, she interviewed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. She later stated, “He considers women simply as graceful ornaments, incapable of thinking like a man, and then strives to give them complete equality of rights and duties”.

It is hard to suggest that this image isn’t based on one Oriana herself made every effort to enforce during her life through her actions, often intended to incite reaction, and not just Wadja trying to lend further credence to his biopic by using a respected real life journalist in the framing device. She, like any others, was more a journalist seeking glory and building her reputation through conflict than making a difference in the world through her work and reporting things people do not want to accept as reality. Despite the heavily doctored image she seemed to wish to portray of herself fault always lay outside the individual as was the case when she blamed her lung cancer on her stay in Kuwait in 1991 after Saddam Hussein had ordered troops to burn hundreds of oil well alone and not that she had been, by choice, a lifelong heavy smoker. And in this film the fault lay exclusively with the Soviets never with how people did not rise up and challenge them before Wałęsa ascension to, what this film is mythologising as, a figurehead.

Summary:
On many aspects of the film I can find no fault. The acting is impactful, the cinematography up to the standard you would expect of a world class director such as Andrzej Wajda (who sadly passed away 9 October 2016) and it really has the sense, if not the most accurate depiction, of the 1980s in Poland. It is solidly built but the message it wishes to express seems, as with any biographical work, to have a desire to frame events in a certain light and omit anything unseemly in order to create a streamlined mythological narrative about its subject – to create an icon rather than relate a flawed, but inspirational, subject.

My greatest critcism is that Andrzej Wajda considered Lech a personal friend and I feel that this caused him to not cast a critical eye upon his subject. This has led, in this love letter of a film to his freind, to the embellishment of a historical figure and securing of his legacy. It deminishes the moments of true opposition faced in order to secure the heroic, incontestable, historical mythos of Wałęsa. The reason people watch a biopic or read an (auto)biography is to see the person behind the facade but sadly, as is often the case, all we get is a re-enforcement of what was already presented to us elsewhere. If you want an introduction to the life and times of Wałęsa then this is good enough as a biased crib notes like starting point but don’t expect any insight into him or how the Soviet era effected Poland beyond trade union strikes.

If you are interested in the works of Andrzej Wajda, or depictions of Poland under Communist rule, I strongly recommend you go watch Wadja’s Man of Marble (Polish: Człowiek z marmuru) or its sequel Man of Iron (Polish: Człowiek z żelaza) which depict fictionalised characters’ experiences covering the events of the Solidarity movement. In these Wajda is less sentimental about his subject and can better present the moral ‘truth’ of events without concern for offending a friend as has sadly occurred with this biopic made far later in his career.

Питер FM (Piter FM/Peter FM): 2006 Russian Film: Commentary and Review

So you were expecting ‘Pociąg’ or ‘O slavnosti a hostech’? On the weekend they will be done and posted a few days apart. Instead here is a running commentary about a Russian film I saw. Not a formal review but a running commentary about the film with time stamps of when the events occur and my view of them. It’s just rambling but then look at the name of the blog.

Piter FM is a 2006 Russian comedy romance film directed by Oksana Bychkova and starring Ekaterina Fedulova, Evgeniy Tsyganov and Aleksey Barabash. The plot revolves around the serendipitous and unexpected romance between a young man and a young woman living in post-Soviet St. Petersburg.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piter_FM

Starring:
Ekaterina Fedulova as Masha
Evgeniy Tsyganov as Maksim
Aleksey Barabash as Kostya
Irina Rakhmanova as Lera
Natalya Reva-Ryadinskaya as Marina
Oleg Dolin as Fedor
Evgeniy Kulakov as Vitya

Trailer:

The subtitles, as the version I watched admitted, are a bit off but are understandable. But what version did I watch you ask? Good question. I don’t remember. There is no official release of this film with English subtitles so it is what it is. I saw the film a while ago and these are old notes I made when watching it with the intention of doing a review but this is more like a running commentary which should be more or less in line with whatever version you end up watching.

The opening sequence: The fast flowing cuts around the buildings remind me of sequences in Japanese television shows where they pan around a person at Dutch angles to make something seem impressive but because it is done at such an oddly specific constant speed it comes across as… exceptionally artificial is the only way I can describe it. I dislike the effect. It is like a cat looking up at you while it’s sat on a toy train track set.

The radio station’s jingle: I see… so radio jingles for local radio stations really are universally cheesy then!

4.40 – The radio studio girl, Lera, has exceptionally short blonde hair. I never find it is a good look for women unless they have very, very, fine features like Audrey Hepburn. Felix looks out of place in how he dresses as if he was at home. Also his shirt has ‘by eck’ on it which is a very Yorkshireman thing for someone to say but the image is of a female superhero from an American comic… it’s just a weird dissonance to me.

6.25 – The turtle pet is random… is it meant to be this film’s mascot? Masha’s top is odd too. It’s like a tabard that wants to be a tank top…

I get the impression this film will be one of those ‘like boats in the night’ ones like ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ or ‘While You Were Sleeping’ were no real romance occurs though we are informed in the advertising it is a romantic film.

9.50 – A convenience to set up the plot. He has her phone and he has hers now… ‘with hilarious results’ as the pitch meeting for the film no doubt went. Things wouldn’t work like this in real life. You would call, meet and exchange. If you couldn’t see the person you would ring the phone and see who answers.

… then suddenly I have a flashback to primary school remembering when some homework got blown out of my hand and I dropped my Pepsi can shaped pencil case to go get it. When I returned my pencil case was gone. A girl kept saying she picked it up and would return it to me everytime I saw her walking home. She never did. Evil little thief…

Masha’s finance, Kostyk/Kostya, is either going to be a designated a villain by default or will be a nasty person… oh he had a bit of an issue with her getting a phone call to return her phone. So apparently he will be a jealous kind then… oh so he also has no time to be with her as he is busy with work… ticking quite a few boxes for the ‘designated bad guy’ boyfriend here when in real life these are real issues that people try to work through together… or maybe they don’t. Maybe I am an idealist every once in a while and would like to think people work together to resolve issues rather than find fleeting happiness elsewhere.
13.16 – Quite amusing the guy gets the impression he is a womaniser.
15.56 – A cross dresser? Tatyana Petrovna. Street cleaner guy is random…
18.36 – Would a woman really walk down the road with massive curlers in her hair? Oddly camp greasy haired suit wearing guy…
19.07 – A fat cat being taken out for a walk. I am sure the St Petersburg tourist board were very happy with this oddball portrayal of the city’s inhabitants…
21.03 – A bro fist pump between the protagonist and the guy dressed just like him… too many coincidences. The protagonists keep making eye contact just to enforce how close they get to each other but fate keeps them apart… I like the statue (bust on a column) he is stood by. I assume it is an aeroplane pilot for the early twentieth century.
23.20 – Impressive graveyard. Random guy with guitar. Random car alarm. Stolen road sign. Random moments. He has a girlfriend? Well this is one of those awkwardly immoral films isn’t it? Flirtatious ‘true love’ wins over fidelity in romantic cinema. Partners too busy right now to have time together, because they are building towards a future together with their partner, are set aside for the flames of passion.
26.10 – I made you dinner. I don’t want it. And the bit with Maksim which I didn’t really follow except they have different schedules of work and she waited for him but he’s not into it… So this is our romantic lead is it? A sort of latter day Byronic hero, but without the smouldering brooding charm and sense of morality, just the unremitting antisocial aspects left in.
27.00 – Known him most of her life. Wants something new. There’s no real reason for the leads to abandon their relationships aside from boredom it seems so far. The director really likes Dutch angles. Nice panning shot out of the window and down the river however.
30.21 – Seems she wants emotional infidelity. I just don’t connect with these characters it seems. Young professionals bored with their success wanting change. Oooh nice reflection in the silver tray moment there!
32.30 – Contrasting her overly orderly home with his very messy apartment. Nice contrast. I take it she lives in the nice area and he lives in the more run down part of the city? This is common in romance… makes the man seem more rugged and hard working.
34.10 – Tramp man looking in the rubbish? Just to show he threw out photos? Then he goes back for them? … So I assume that sets up that he is…
35.30 – Oh the boyfriend is called Kostya. I need to not follow the subtitles so much as it’s a common issue they just don’t bother with character names assuming you realise which bits of dialogue are names and which bits are words…
36.10 – The young couple singing = ‘this is what love should be like!’ moment… again the whole ‘idyllic love’ that romance comedies like is in full force here.
37.00 – a running musical sequence? AND AGAIN THEY CROSS PATHS IN SO MANY DAYS! But it is interesting for me to see the city scape usually ignored in tourism information. A random Indian style parade… random kid calls random the leading lady Cinderella… it wouldn’t happen. Just setting up she is the pretty young protagonist.
38.00 Sandals wearing random guy asking for a number. Well I suppose you have to take a chance to know if it could ever happen although part of me thinks is this ‘is a cameo by a famous actor?’ as it’s featured prominently in the trailer for the film. Then the old woman… oh she is a beggar trying to swindle money with a classic con.
40.00 He asks the mascot?! Why did she go in the telephone kiosk to use her mobile? More importantly why not just call him once she was there? Convenience for the plot. Who would give flowers to a stall-holder? Is that meant to be endearing?

43.00 Dima – climbing the building?! And has those ‘geeks wear glasses making their eyes look massive’ spectacles. One scene character who adds nothing to the film.
44.00 – Nice look at some architecture. Bumps a cyclist. Might have well asked if she was Masha just out of curiosity by this point. Oh the young couple again! Good I was worried they were a one scene thing but if it runs throughout as a contrast I don’t mind that. Bit weird to invite him in though. Music is nice throughout this film. Quite light beat.
47.00 – Who are they? Random people turning up. Oh the landlord and lady. I should have figured that out as the woman is ‘comically’ bigger than her husband. They are just a plot device to drive him into more immediate action.
49 – Calling out to him over the waves. I am sure I saw an American film with this idea. It was ‘You’ve Got Mail‘ or ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ I think.. Different method but similar ‘missing each other walking past’ idea.
50.15 – He is at the Petrograd police station? Why are there red lit hookers behind him? Oh they are in a prison cell. But for a moment they looked demonic. Oh and she calls him her fiancé… and the officer waters a plant…
51.45 – Pitr then rapid rewind of city events. Then a Kevin Spacey looking senior police officer/general. Oddly I can imagine Bridgend’s chief executive having a map of Bridgend similar to the general’s one in his office. Oh he is related to Maksim. That’s convenient.
53.20 – The teacher and his student. I always want there to be some sort of odd cross over in these sorts of moments. Characters, in their own films, having the same scene in both films but from their distinctly separate perspectives, as if to say the events are going on simultaneously. I would just find it a really funny sort of ‘the directors universe’ sort of idea like Tarantino and Kevin Smith sort of do with their films. Obviously I would have liked Vitalik to turn up in this scene now imprisoned for his affair with Kristina in ‘Неадекватные Люди / Inadequate People / Oddballs’ but obviously that film was made long after this one by different people.
53.50 – oh was that Masha’s boyfriend overcompensating with flowers? That was a good ‘crossing of paths’ moment so it’s not just the protagonists doing this.
55.00 Oh they are speaking informally to each other if you listen to their use of language… I assume this film takes place over only a few days though so that’s a bit suprising.
56.00 – Protagonist confronted with her own feelings by a caller. She runs an advice show. Reminds me of ‘The Problem with Cats and Dogs‘ in that regard.
56.50 – so Felix is meant to be a comedy character? Face on dart board and all that. Oh but he forces her to say things she doesn’t believe and threatens her job. So he is a comedic looking villain.
58.20 – they were fighting? Oh and she smokes. You wouldn’t see the protagonists smoking in Western romance comedies… well maybe you would in the 90s with Richard Curtis’ films but not now. Odd segway with the blonde girl and whistling. Should have just let the Masha drama scene play out. Nice imagery of the grinding/arc wielding behind him then blocked to illustrate his feelings. Actually quite a skilled bit of imagery there i am impressed! While she has red lights saying stop except when she tries to approach him and the wielder is on her side now. A visually impressive scene.
1.02 – Then more fast cuts in the party. With a disco ball headed man. And a guy with a weird beard. It’s all oddly early 1990s Brit flick looking to me here. Marina isn’t present again after that one scene as far as I remember. At least we learn a bit about him though and his falling in love too easily tendencies. Although just like Kostya he has a temper. Then we cut to a scene of Masha crying… good juxtaposing but then a guy in his underwear on a park bench locked out by his wife.
1.07 – oh come on! This is ridiculous they keep crossing paths this much without comment even if we assume city folk dont speak to each other. Nice taxi driving at night with the lights of the city flashing by sequence. Is she wearing a dress then? It just looks like a fitted long shirt… wait how was water splashing up on the mirror? Then cut to a nice silhouette of him crossing a bridge. And back to her smoking hanging out the window with a blanket around her.

... Wait is this actually considered a romantic film? One hour and nine minutes in and nothings really happened.

He sits hanging off the bridge. FALL IN! Is he sat on the bridge outside her place? That would have been a good bit though obviously she would be able to tell it was him as I doubt many people go sitting on bridges in such a way.

The films more about her not being in love and Maksim just seems to be… there in parallel to her. When did he mention houses to her? I don’t get the exchange at 1hour 12mins about flipping the coin to Fontanka and the Neva river. Nor the targeting the Chikik bird. I assume I am just misunderstanding it and the bird is the coat of arms. Only now he recognises her voice?! More quick cutting but in reverse. Maybe it has to be filmed in the opposite direction it should happen and so they got lazy and just did it the easy ‘in reverse’ way.

1.14 – contract discussions. Very romantic. Oh he is quitting the contract…but still.
1.15 – They are sunbathing out the window with tinfoil. I have seen odder behaviour if I’m honest…
1.16 – Shaky camera with his friends is the most idyllic romantic scene in this film so far.
1.16 – See through clothing is always odd to me. It’s meant to cover but with see through vinyl like that any kind of design is just pointless. I like the sequence with everyone in the rain though. Why is he hanging out… do Romani get viewed as street tramps? Then she does the ‘shower in the rain happily’ motion for no reason (except maybe for the films trailer as it’s a romantic film cliché).
1.18 – he is very well kept for someone living on the streets. OH HE DROPPED THE PHONE which was expected. I don’t watch these sorts of films intentionally but there we go. NOOOOOO don’t walk past each other. They obviously recognise each other by now even if not as their intended romantic partner…
1.20 – I guess he calls to contact the girl and dun dun durrr in fact contacts her direct. Intentionally or accidentally? It ends on a similar ‘and so their story began’ note as some other films I have seen…

The film ends with a black screen with the phrase (in Russian Cyrillic obviously) ‘Dedicated to our parents’… It seems a bit random to give such a dedication at the end of the film immediately as these are usually reserved for the end of the credits… is it to honour previous generations without whom none of us would be alive without their love for each other? I just don’t get why it was included right at the end of the main feature.

Actually the outtakes during the credits are fun. Did a police officer really just walk into frame to ask them about their filming!? Staff turning around with their phones is amusing. I like seeing out takes sometimes. I don’t like the outtakes during the credits you see in recent American comedies where they try out different lines as it seems forced (then a gain I have not been a fan of recent American comedies anyway at it seems they are enjoying making the films more than the audience watching the finished article and so often the DVD commentaries are better than the actual film which is ridiculous when you consider it in perspective.)

End verdict: Light hearted piece of fluff. Reminded me of ‘One Fine Day‘ or ‘Sleepless In Seattle’. I didn’t really engage with the characters but at the same time didn’t hate them. The support characters were one dimensional and in fact the young couple in love who have no real lines during the film as background characters made more of an impact than Masha’s co-worker or Maksim’s friends. I Watched it as I assumed it would show quite a wide range of St Petersburg which I haven’t been able to see in more historically based works (e.g. Russian Ark which focused exclusively on the Hermitage) and wasn’t let down in that respect as it showed a number of the normal streets. Would i watch this again? Not really if I’m honest but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it to someone if they wanted to see a Russian film but obviously so far ‘Odd Balls‘, ‘Russian Ark‘ and for fantasy ‘Daywatch’/’Nightwatch’ are the ones I would recommend. ‘Oddballs‘ above all else as I think there is some really good potential there which the director of ‘Nightwatch‘ has done big budget Hollywood films and his use of CGI is a bit too obvious and distracting though admittedly his aim is for over the top action sequences as he has the budget for them.

Pitr FM was okay if not slightly mediocre all things considered although the sound track was quite nice. If you want a good Russian romantic comedy film go watch ‘Неадекватные Люди / Inadequate People / Oddballs‘. I cannot recommend it highly enough.