June 1946: Stalin invites Russian emigres to return to the motherland. It's a trap: when a ship-load from France arrives in Odessa, only a physician and his family are spared execution or ... See full summary »
In a Carpathian village, Ivan falls in love with Marichka, the daughter of his father's killer. When tragedy befalls her, his grief lasts months; finally he rejoins the colorful life around... See full summary »
Eight-hour epic based on the eponymous book by Leo Tolstoy. Two main story-lines are complex and intertwined. One is the love story of young Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Pierre ... See full summary »
Set in Italy, the film follows the lives and interactions of two boys/men, one born a bastard of peasant stock (Depardieu), the other born to a land owner (de Niro). The drama spans from ... See full summary »
Robert De Niro,
Young Queen Margot finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage amidst a religious war between Catholics and Protestants. She hopes to escape with a new lover, but finds herself imprisoned by her powerful and ruthless family.
Tamara and Sasha were separated during the war. Now (1957) Sasha is visiting Moscow for five days and by chance recognizes the house where Tamara used to live. She is still living there with her nephew Slava.
This melodrama revolves around the post-war meeting reunion an intelligent front-line officer, now happily married, and a woman street vendor. This encounter reawakens in them submerged ... See full summary »
This Soviet propaganda film is set in the time of the Russian Civil War, after the communist revolution of 1917. The communist forces are losing a battle over town. They must blow up the ... See full summary »
This movie by Eldar Ryazanov surpassed my expectations. It really is quite an experience to see how Larissa's life unfolds; how she is coveted by men old and young, rich and poor... And yet every turn of events leaves a much bitter taste on her. It seems like if tears were a permanent mark of every Russian woman, like if, by definition, no woman would dare to call herself Russian without ever tasting the bitterness of life.
Ryazanov is quickly becoming one of my favourite directors. Though here I may be coming late, since he actually achieved fame and glory during Soviet time, a long gone era. Anyway, his "Zhestokij Romans" or "A cruel Romance" tells a tale which seems to me timeless.
Consider the plot of a very beautiful young woman, whose life ahead is full of promise.. But consider also that this girl's life is actually torn apart by events which seem (apparently) out of her immediate control, like if fate was conspiring against her at every other corner. Even her mother, willingly or not, at some point "sells" her -though like every other mother she blindly believes doing what's best for her daughter's future. Zhestokij Romans is sinonimous to drama: just watch the final scene, which is so powerful, telling and poetic...
I especially enjoyed the Gipsy scenes. All that dancing, joy and vodka were very moving in this film. Just as Yugoslav director Emir Kosturica has immortalised the Gipsy people (i.e. "Underground") we also see in "Zhestokij" droves of joyful Gipsies carrying everywhere they go that sound which is at the same time melancholic and joyous. Some other scenes reminded me of "Svadba" (Pavel Lounguine) a film which also features lots of partying and rivers of vodka despite the imminent disgrace and bitterness of life. I even found some parallels with "Luna Papa" another film from the former Soviet republics in which a young and pretty girl has to rapidly mature and leap from childhood into adulthood.
The Gipsy scenes also served as a very effective contrast between joy and doom. While they kept dancing, tragedy was occurring elsewhere. It's like they say: one man's happiness is another man's suffering.
That's why I consider this movie to be "Timeless". That's why I consider the last scene a gem of cinema, like anything I've seen before. Our lovely Larissa is embarked in that permanent quest for real love and affection.
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