Russia, 2010, Director: Dmitrii Diyachenko
Judging from the raving Russian internet forums, reviews, and box office results, Dmitrii D’iachenko’s recent comedy What Men Talk About appears to have gained the love and following of wide audiences. Worn out from primitive slapstick comedies, compulsory nudity, and smutty “below-the-belt” jokes, contemporary Russian moviegoers readily appreciated the film’s gentle quality humor, reminiscent of the extraordinarily popular comedies of El’dar Riazanov from the Soviet era and free from hackneyed clichés populating the comedy genre nowadays.
The film features an uncomplicated storyline using highly subjective, self-conscious narration, elevated by the use of medium shots and frequent close-ups, and featuring flashbacks, fantasies, dreams and childhood memories. The plot revolves around four old friends–Kamil’ (Kamil’ Larin), Lesha (Leonid Barats), Sasha (Aleksandr Demidov) and Slava (Rostislav Khait)—all well-to-do professionals in their late 30s embarking on a two-day road trip from Moscow to Odessa (the Olympus of humor in Russian and Ukrainian cultures). They wish to escape the metropolis and the everyday routine of work, family and girlfriends to relax in a nightclub run by Slava’s friend and to see the concert of a popular band B-2 (who wrote all original music for the film). Despite its promise of the road movie genre (by D’iachenko), this road trip is completely stripped of action, juicy adventure, sex and violence. Thus, the quad makes three completely adventureless stops on the way to Odessa: at the off-road café run by a Georgian man who, unlike other Georgian men, can’t sing but cooks wonderful inexpensive shish kebab (shashlyk); in Bel’diazhki, a poky hole of a place (with all-time favorite Nina Ruslanova and stunning Zhanna Friske in secondary roles), where the quad spends a night in a filthy motel full of cockroaches and bugs; and in Kiev, where they savor traditional Ukrainian cuisine, as well as art in a local gallery. Close to Odessa the four miraculously survive a car accident (the only hint of adventure in the film), which causes Kamil’, Lesha and Sasha to undergo some kind of change, but doesn’t affect Slava at all. The quad eventually gets to Odessa, meets Slava’s friend– the owner of a glamorous nightclub filled with crowds of sexed-up women, goes to the beach to do some reflection, and eventually to the concert of B-2. The final crane shot shows the four friends at the B-2 concert singing along with hundreds of other fans.
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