Zhestokiy romans (A Cruel Romance) (Ruthless Romance) (1984)

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Slow-paced and in some longer stretches, this period melodrama features the heroine Larisa (Larisa Guzeyeva) and her various, competing suitors. Sergei Paratov (Nikita Mikhalkov) dashes into Larisa's sister's wedding like a knight in shining armor and starts to court Larisa. Her head is turned, but not enough to keep her from getting engaged to the boring Yuli Karandyshev (Andrei Myagkov) when the handsome, singing, dancing, and bon vivant Sergei has the temerity to be gone for a year. What ensues is a classic case of seduction by the immoral Sergei and then the inevitable happens -- betrayal and tragedy. The movie is based on the classical play Bespridannitsa ("Without Dowry") by Alexander Ostrovsky that was previously filmed by Yakov Protazanov in 1937. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

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