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During the Gorbachev years, Platon Makovski and his four buddies are university students who jump on the private capitalism movement. Fast-forward 20 years, Platon finds himself the richest man in Russia, having sacrificed his friends to get to the top. But with this cynical rise, comes a brutal fall. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Oligarkh, is an average movie about a group of friends taking advantage of the opportunities "new Russia" offered after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The movie has certain value in giving a rough sketch of how the vacuum left by the collapsed communist system was filled by various criminal elements. However, it fails to do that comprehensively, possibly because, as it targets the Russian audience, it assumes too much information. The transformation of the 'naive, jolly group of friends" into a vicious, ruthless, hierarchical criminal organization is not well demonstrated, phases of changes in characters' world views and emotions largely left to the imagination of the audience. Since the story is told going back and forth in time, some of the criticism can be overlooked, but one cannot help but notice some plot holes. Moreover, it ends in a quite cheesy way, reminding a cheap Hollywood B-movie, something I do not hope to see in a supposedly-sophisticated Russian movie.
The acting is generally good, but not outstanding. I thought supporting characters were more impressive than the hero, and I especially liked the commissar and his style. Direction is not bad, and actually it made me think that it was directed by a talented, but inexperienced director. It seems Lungin has a longer career than I expected.
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