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A Cruel Romance (1984)

Zhestokiy romans (original title)
Cinematographic adaptation of classical Russian play "Dowry-less" by A. Ostrovsky. Noble but poor widow seeks to arrange marriage for her three daughters. She maintains "open house" or ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Larisa Guzeeva ...
Andrey Myagkov ...
Viktor Proskurin ...
Georgiy Burkov ...
Tatyana Pankova ...
Efrosinya Potapovna
Borislav Brondukov ...
Aleksandr Pyatkov ...
Yuriy Sarantsev ...
Olga Volkova ...
Dmitriy Buzylyov-Kretso ...
Ilya (as Dmitriy Buzylyov)
Aleksandr Pankratov-Chyornyy ...


Cinematographic adaptation of classical Russian play "Dowry-less" by A. Ostrovsky. Noble but poor widow seeks to arrange marriage for her three daughters. She maintains "open house" or provincial form of salon hoping to attract gentlemen well-off enough to marry for love to a dowry-less. Written by Anonymous

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Plot Keywords:

based on play | See All (1) »


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

18 September 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Cruel Romance  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Version of Without Dowry (1937) See more »


Pod laskoy plyushevogo pleda
Written by Andrei Petrov and Marina Tsvetayeva
Performed by Valentina Ponomaryova
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User Reviews

Timeless movie
14 March 2004 | by (Quebec, QC) – See all my reviews

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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