Dovlatov Reviews

  • Aug 05, 2020

    Stylish and atmospheric portrayal of 70s Soviet bohemian life. Elegant shot choreography and cool naturalistic performances. Loved it.

    Stylish and atmospheric portrayal of 70s Soviet bohemian life. Elegant shot choreography and cool naturalistic performances. Loved it.

  • Feb 28, 2020

    This film would have made a ton more sense were it called Dovlatov: the Musical, where they take each scene exactly as is and set it to song. The film somehow managed to reduce an important and weighty topic to an emotionless caricature. The filmmakers were working with a subject that already speaks for itself; so, it takes an extra special effort to turn it into a pointless, meandering indulgence of visual nostalgia of 1970s USSR. The film throws around superficial literary tropes but does little psychologically and emotionally to signal that Dovlatov is a writer. The lead actor is hardly believable as Dovlatov. The sole highlight for me was Beschastny's portrayal of Brodsky, the sole twinge of emotion in the film. His acting sticks out like a sore thumb in what otherwise would have been better staged as a musical, where they sing about the thing without really acting like the thing.

    This film would have made a ton more sense were it called Dovlatov: the Musical, where they take each scene exactly as is and set it to song. The film somehow managed to reduce an important and weighty topic to an emotionless caricature. The filmmakers were working with a subject that already speaks for itself; so, it takes an extra special effort to turn it into a pointless, meandering indulgence of visual nostalgia of 1970s USSR. The film throws around superficial literary tropes but does little psychologically and emotionally to signal that Dovlatov is a writer. The lead actor is hardly believable as Dovlatov. The sole highlight for me was Beschastny's portrayal of Brodsky, the sole twinge of emotion in the film. His acting sticks out like a sore thumb in what otherwise would have been better staged as a musical, where they sing about the thing without really acting like the thing.

  • Dec 11, 2018

    The Russian scenario is heavy. Maybe it's the weather, the language, the clothes closed for people to withstand the cold inclement. Maybe it's the excess of alcohol and cigarettes, but to western eyes that never stepped in Russia, the movies of those bands always seem heavy, with characters of souls exhausting and taciturnas. We see this in films like "Leviathan" (2014) and "Loveless" (2017). In fact, I've never seen a Russian comedy. I do not even know if this kind of movie exists. "Dovlatov", for example, goes a long way. On the contrary. It is a real story about persistence, about resilience amidst the harsh Soviet regime then under the command of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982). In those days two artists lived in marginality. The poet Josef Brodsky (Artur Beschastny) and the writer and journalist Sergei Dovlatov (Milan Maric). Both never had their works published in newspapers and magazines simply because they did not exhibit an idyllic and heroic daily life of the Soviet homeland at the same time that they had relations with the West. Dovlatov, for example, was expelled from the Union of Journalists of the Soviet Union because he had published texts in the West. His first book was destroyed by KGB orders. Brodsky had his poetry considered pornographic and anti-Soviet. He had confiscated work, was interrogated and at least twice put in a mental institution. The poet was still sentenced to five years of hard labor on a farm in Norenskaya. Both did not want to talk about the giant Soviet Union. After all, the film shows that much of the population lived in conditions of low dignity, lack of money, without meeting basic needs and buying basic goods only through international smuggling. In this climate, Dovlatov, the protagonist of this story, walked from newspaper to newspaper, from magazine to magazine, trying to publish his stories. He was always rejected by the critical bias in the filming of Soviet propaganda films. He was advised to be more "optimistic." Everyone should be optimistic and talk about Soviet heroes. Aleksey German's film reveals that there was a bit of a major collective alienation. Dovlatov, however, could not afford such optimism. It portrayed what he saw without heroes and the grandeur of Greek epics that the film often brings up to compare with Soviet hyperbolism. It is curious to note these differences and to see how Dovlatov was slow to be recognized. Which shows how any regime that holds too much control of power and dominates its population with short reins is evil for the people. Both Brodsky and Dovlatov were only recognized after immigrating from the USSR. The first to Venice. The second to the United States. Dovlatov's first book was only published in 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall and in full force of glasnost, when the Soviet bloc broke up. The writer, however, did not live long to have recognition of his work. He died in New York in 1990 of heart attack at the age of 48. But anyway Dovlatov managed to achieve the childhood dream of becoming a writer. By the end of the 20th century it was among the favorites of the Russians. And so, to know his story, his film is so necessary. As hard as it sounds a little heavy and difficult to digest.

    The Russian scenario is heavy. Maybe it's the weather, the language, the clothes closed for people to withstand the cold inclement. Maybe it's the excess of alcohol and cigarettes, but to western eyes that never stepped in Russia, the movies of those bands always seem heavy, with characters of souls exhausting and taciturnas. We see this in films like "Leviathan" (2014) and "Loveless" (2017). In fact, I've never seen a Russian comedy. I do not even know if this kind of movie exists. "Dovlatov", for example, goes a long way. On the contrary. It is a real story about persistence, about resilience amidst the harsh Soviet regime then under the command of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982). In those days two artists lived in marginality. The poet Josef Brodsky (Artur Beschastny) and the writer and journalist Sergei Dovlatov (Milan Maric). Both never had their works published in newspapers and magazines simply because they did not exhibit an idyllic and heroic daily life of the Soviet homeland at the same time that they had relations with the West. Dovlatov, for example, was expelled from the Union of Journalists of the Soviet Union because he had published texts in the West. His first book was destroyed by KGB orders. Brodsky had his poetry considered pornographic and anti-Soviet. He had confiscated work, was interrogated and at least twice put in a mental institution. The poet was still sentenced to five years of hard labor on a farm in Norenskaya. Both did not want to talk about the giant Soviet Union. After all, the film shows that much of the population lived in conditions of low dignity, lack of money, without meeting basic needs and buying basic goods only through international smuggling. In this climate, Dovlatov, the protagonist of this story, walked from newspaper to newspaper, from magazine to magazine, trying to publish his stories. He was always rejected by the critical bias in the filming of Soviet propaganda films. He was advised to be more "optimistic." Everyone should be optimistic and talk about Soviet heroes. Aleksey German's film reveals that there was a bit of a major collective alienation. Dovlatov, however, could not afford such optimism. It portrayed what he saw without heroes and the grandeur of Greek epics that the film often brings up to compare with Soviet hyperbolism. It is curious to note these differences and to see how Dovlatov was slow to be recognized. Which shows how any regime that holds too much control of power and dominates its population with short reins is evil for the people. Both Brodsky and Dovlatov were only recognized after immigrating from the USSR. The first to Venice. The second to the United States. Dovlatov's first book was only published in 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall and in full force of glasnost, when the Soviet bloc broke up. The writer, however, did not live long to have recognition of his work. He died in New York in 1990 of heart attack at the age of 48. But anyway Dovlatov managed to achieve the childhood dream of becoming a writer. By the end of the 20th century it was among the favorites of the Russians. And so, to know his story, his film is so necessary. As hard as it sounds a little heavy and difficult to digest.

  • Sep 15, 2018

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