This is a captivating love story.. It starts with a young woman (Katya, played by Vera Alentova) reporting to her Worker's Dormitory friends that she has flunked by two points the exam to get into university. It ends with the most incredible sweetness of life.
It is like a French film done by a Russian company (which is what it is). The Moscow we see that does not believe in tears does believe in love, and it is not a Moscow of politics, although some people do call one another "comrade." This is a woman's point of view film (a "chick flick") that transcends any genre cage. It begins slowly, almost painfully dull in a way that will remind the viewer of all the clichés about Russia, the unstylish dress, the worker's paradise that isn't, the sharp contrast between Moscow and the peasants who live outside the city. Katya works in a factory. She works at a drill press. She is obviously underemployed. Lyudmila (Irina Muravyova) works in a bakery. She is probably gainfully employed for the time and place. They are friends, twentysomethings who are on the make for a man, but not a man from the sticks. They pretend to be university post docs or something close to that and they impress some people as they house-sit a beautiful Moscow apartment.
This is how their adult life begins in a sense. Lyudmila falls in love with an athlete; Katya becomes infatuated with a television cameraman. One thing leads to another and before we know it they are forty. Neither relationship worked out. The athlete becomes an alcoholic, the cameraman, in the sway of his mother, believes that Katya is beneath him (once he finds out that she works in a factory). How wrong he is, of course.
But no more of the plot. I won't spoil it. The plot is important. The characterizations are important. The story is like a Russian novel in that it spans lots of time, but once you are engaged you will find that the two and a half hours fly by and you will, perhaps like me, say at the end "What a great movie!" My hat is off to director Vladimir Menshov and to Valentin Chernykh who wrote the script and to the cast. I've mentioned Vera Alentova and Irina Muravyova, but Aleksey Batlov who played Gosha was also excellent. I don't want to say anymore.. 2 stars 4-15-13