Live! and The Major) is quite attuned to the ironies large and small of life under the new Vlad the Impaler. Here, nobody does their job so long as they can pocket a bribe, steal, lie or otherwise circumvent work. Anyone who tells the truth or behaves in a manner we would have long ago called "correct" is simply laughed off the stage, ignored completely, or -- as in the case of our hero and titular "fool," Dima (played by Artyom Bystrov, below) -- treated to an array of belittling that slowly grows to humongous, even life-threatening proportions. No one -- men, women, children, family, friends, co-workers -- can be expected to act like a civilized human being. The Social Contract? Broken, stomped upon and the burned into ashes -- just like the records concerning certain shoddy and illegal transactions that we see the town's council members lighting afire late in this riveting film.
Nataliya Surkova (above, right), who plays the political Queen Bee, a woman who dearly wants to do the right thing, so long as she comes out OK, and Boris Nevzorov (below, left) as the most complex and closest-to-the-vest of the sinners on view.
Leviathan? That movie wore its symbolism a little heavily, and also lasted twenty minutes longer than this one.) The Fool's moral stance makes Mr. Bykov some kind of hero, I would say. And very probably, as perceived by much of the Russian populace, some kind of fool, as well.
Olive Films and running exactly two hours (in the screener I viewed), opens this Wednesday, September 16, in New York City at Film Forum., after which it will open in Santa Barbara (one day only!), Miami, Chicago and St. Louis -- with perhaps more bookings to be announced down the road. To see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters shown, click here.