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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
Quantity, Not Quality, Yet Still Sketchy in the Details
Russian mobsters (oligarchs) scheme and maneuver to make elicit millions from the days of Gorbachev till recent times. Basically an ordinary "Godfather"-like gangster film, except for its Russian setting. Based loosely on the rise and fall of rogue capitalist Boris Berezovsky, the film fudges sketchy historic details with abundant melodramatic posturing and substitutes quantity for quality. Never-ending plot complications can't make up for the essential emptiness. No character or relationship is depicted in depth or intimacy. Over and over we hear how brilliant the gang leader, Plato Makovski (Vladimir Mashkov), is, but never really see him being brilliant, never really glimpse the sausage-making behind his fabulous success.
The sympathetic depiction of the gang of oligarchs is suspiciously skewed. They are shown as a jolly crew of good guys trying to make the most of a corrupt system and have a good time along the way. One suspects the real oligarchs were/are much more sinister and violent.
For all its flaws, "Tycoon" has an uninterrupted manic drive that at least holds one's attention. At times, for example the boat outing and Plato's 44th birthday party, it almost, but not quite, takes off into a mad absurd Fellini-esque circus. The film is at its best satirizing Russian politics and power struggles, at its worst when Plato leadenly mopes like the morose and isolated Al Pacino of "Godfather III."
Of note is the beautiful Mariya Mironova as Maria ("Masha"), Plato's lover, a restless soulful self-possessed spirit who is never on screen long enough to be quite fully fleshed in. 6/10
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