I screened a 16mm print of this film, Bob, Verushka & the Pursuit of Happiness as part of the Atlanta film Festival. It was presented in (and I believe shot in ) 16mm. The film revolves around ` Bob' played expertly by Michael Waite. No real spoilers here but the gist of the film is this: Bob is a somewhat nerdy guy, 33-ish, that lives with his sister and her kids. He has a nothing sort of job selling car air fresheners. Due to slumping sales he is sent by his boss to spend an afternoon following a visiting leading sales lady. Through a mix up he ends up with a Russian woman, Verushka, that has some pretty wild ideas about getting ahead. Thinking Verushka is the top sales lady, bob allows her to completely make him over with a new wardrobe and hairpiece. Before long Bob wises up but by then he has fallen for her. The two of them embark on a mostly harmless "fun with Dick and Jane" petty crime rampage to get enough cash to get " really" started in business.
The real charm of this movie is the culture clash. I visited the USSR back in the 1980s and saw the old Soviet system first hand. Some of the actions and behavior of Verushka may seem wild but in many ways her logic is right on the old communist money. The interaction of Verushka and Bob is really entertaining on several levels.
Yelena Danova who plays Verushka is an absolute delight. I believe she really is Russian( if not she is an even better actress that I thought) She truly looks and acts the part. She is pretty and looks very Russian. She is a little thick around the waist and voluptuous but this only adds to her beautiful and vibrant character that is both very sexy and very passionate. I think it is good that Versuhka was NOT played by an actress with a supermodel figure. In fact as a couple Bob and Verushka look about right for each other. No matter how crazy or off the wall the plot gets the fact that both leads( and everybody else in the film as well) look like regular people that you might actually run into, adds a lot of credibility to the film.
If you haven't guessed yet, the film had a modest budget, however in no way does it seem cheap. In fact being shot on 16mm in real rooms and parking lots etc further adds to the authentic ` real life' feel that makes this story work. Eventually Bob is brought back to reality after wounding a crook they have ripped off. He decides that he is not corrupt and not going to accept Verushka's moral relativism about getting ahead anymore. Fortunately, she is in turn affected by him and becomes interested in him for himself, rather than the made over Bob she created.
I enjoyed this film a great deal. I hope that it gets the exposure it deserves. I found it humorous, touching all with a nice dash of satire on the old & new Russia contrasted against the state of American business. It is truly refreshing to see an independent film with a modest budget masterfully succeed at character development & audience connection in an age where we routinely have mega million dollar films that can not. I fully recommend seeing Bob, Verushka & the Pursuit of Happiness.
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