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This is one of my favorite movies from childhood. It inhabits the weird time shortly after the Soviet collapse, but before the movie industry completely replaced quality with a salad of Western techniques and terrible acting.
And the best thing about this one is the acting. You have a number of big Russian names, including Smoktunovskiy as the villain, and they are all fun to watch even when they just monologue away. They are supported by good writing and there are a number of genuinely funny moments, and often not because there is a joke or something like that but because the people involved sell their lines really well with perfect timing.
The story is really good. The movie is named "Genius" and indeed the protagonist and his machinations seem smart, even if some of them are only smart on the surface and the technical details are conveniently unexplained. There is not so much a main premise as there are a number of chapters showing the interconnected adventures and misadventures of the main protagonist, the intelligent fraudster.
Let us touch upon the music. The reason why I am writing this review is because, so many years later after watching this movie, the main theme just jumped into my mind and made itself at home as if it never left. Much of the rest of the music is your average 80s / 90s techno track, but the main song, using existing lyrics from the early 20th century and sung by the lead actor, is really memorable.
The unfortunate reality though is that this movie is not timeless. You need to know the situation and problems of the period immediately following the Soviet collapse to grasp the messages and themes that this movie shows.
Also, towards the end, the movie gets a little campy when it tries to be an action movie, which it isn't. Occasional campiness aside, it is still a treat to watch, especially if you remember the 90s and understand the background for the story and its characters.
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