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Looks are everything... unless you are truly loved
Almost everybody likes a teenage rom-com with reminiscences of My Fair Lady, in which the unattractive and unpopular girl turns out to be beautiful and self-confident, just to discover that it is not what really matters, but (surprise!) love is... But usually you do not expect these flicks to be directed and manned by A-grade director and actors, or convey a memorable image of a country and way of life falling apart!
This is the case with Daneliya's Nastya that powerfully depicts the Yeltsin-era Russian moral and economic decadence as its background, without ever loosing a mood of optimism, cheerfulness and openness. No hysterical laughters here, but a constant smile; and this is family-friendly entertainment, without dirty jokes. (Although too young viewers might find this dull.)
The otherwise good-looking Kutepova is very convincing as the clumsy-moving and frightfully too-friendly "ugly Nastya" and despite being an amateur actress, the breathtakingly beautiful Markova plays "transformed Nastya" very adequately. Valery Nikolaev is an annoying ne'er-do-well in the beginning but suddenly shows a lot of dignity and loveliness in the metro station scene -- similarly to Heath Ledger's stadium performance in "10 Things I Hate About You". (He moves very well, too.) You might think that the great comical actor Leonov is wasted in a few-words supporting role but he excels in that, too and at last he does not steal the show from the young ones -- Nastya's mother does that sometimes.
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