Russian Doll (2001)
Most people fall in love and get married, but one man does it the other way around in this romantic comedy from Australia. Harvey (Hugo Weaving) is a private detective who derives the bulk of his work from unhappily married people wanting to know if their spouses are being unfaithful. Harvey finds this work depressing and wishes he could quit to devote himself to writing crime fiction. Harvey's career has also given him a rather jaundiced view of romance, which is unfortunately confirmed when he's hired to keep tabs on a college professor and discovers he's having an affair with one of his students -- who also happens to be Harvey's fiancée. Harvey's best friend is a publishing executive named Ethan (David Wenham), who is happily married to Miriam (Rebecca Frith). Or that's what Harvey thinks; he soon learns the truth when Ethan confesses he's been having a passionate affair with Katia (Natalia Novikova), a beautiful woman from Russia. Katia's visa is about to expire, and Ethan is desperate to keep her from going back to Russia; the easiest way to allow her to stay in Australia would be to marry her, but Ethan doesn't want to divorce Miriam just yet. Instead, Ethan offers to make a deal with Harvey -- Ethan will pay him a large amount of money if he'd be willing to wed Katia. While Harvey is not enthusiastic about the idea, the money would allow him to stay home and write, so he reluctantly agrees. But after a few weeks of marriage, Harvey finds himself falling in love with his wife, and he begins looking for a way to steal her away from Ethan. Russian Doll won the prize for Best Original Screenplay at the 2000 Australian Film Institute Awards. … More
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Critic Reviews for Russian Doll
A talky, plodding romantic comedy in which the viewer is just waiting for the obvious plot twist to happen. And when it does, it's too unconvincing to feel satisfying.
A tone of lame amiability doesn't compensate for lack of invention.
Suffers from a slow-paced, contrived script.
It conceals beneath its amiable ethnic facade a diminished version of every generic boy-meets-girl trifle to come out of Hollywood.
There's a charm in these romantic developments that overcomes all its staleness.
Slightly campy, intriguing and fun!
Weaving is wonderful as always but the real surprise is Novikova who displays a quirky charm and movie star charisma in her first lead role.
Only the farcical setup itself fails, but it can be swallowed for the sake of these enjoyable performances.
Earns its green card for being a humorous and pleasant-enough diversion.
Makes the romantic comedy genre seem a bit less mechanical, and a bit more genuine.
Fails to get beyond the been-there, seen-that, prompting not much more than a few empathetic smiles.
It's easy to predict the ending of formulaic films, but Australia's Russian Doll takes the cake.
Weaving deserves much better.
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