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The Half Life of Timofey Berezin
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Reviews & Ratings for
Pu-239 More at IMDbPro »The Half Life of Timofey Berezin (original title)

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37 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, compelling drama, great acting, solid script. What else is there to ask for? Watch it!

10/10
Author: Andy from NYC
17 November 2007

AKA PU-239. A gem of a movie that deserves much more attention than (unfortunately) it's going to get. Honestly, I can't find any faults in this movie. OK, maybe, the mobster characters are a little bit over the top, but just a little, and it's a good thing. More entertaining. The script has obviously been written by someone who knows what he's talking about. Writing, acting, directing are all superb. It's the first intelligent "Russian" movie coming from Hollywood in ages. Too bad, not many people will see it due to the total lack of marketing from HBO. I got to watch it by accident while doing thoughtless channel flipping. Glad, I did.

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23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Great Film

10/10
Author: sbthomas-2 from United States
24 November 2007

Based on a short story by Ken Kalfus, PU-239 is about a man who worked all of his adult life in a nuclear processing facility, only to find himself contaminated beyond hope of survival because the plant is literally falling apart. Faced with precious little time to look out for his family's future, a good man does a bad thing, by stealing a small quantity of weapons grade plutonium to sell on the black market. His journey takes him to Moscow,where he must deal with Russian mobsters and street thugs while trying to survive long enough to make a transaction.

The film is filled with little facts about the power and dangers of radiation, and examples of the affect that perestroika has had on Russian society. The plot takes many turns as the main characters find themselves in one ironic situation after another. While the details may be contrived (hey - it's a movie), the basic plot is very plausible and the scary thing is how much enriched plutonium is actually unaccounted for in the former USSR.

I feel sure this film will be made available on DVD someday. But if you have access to HBO, watch it now. If you like dark satire and science, this films for you.

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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Recurring themes and great films

7/10
Author: lastliberal from United States
18 November 2007

I don't know what it is this weekend, but I have tasted films from France (La Haine), Korea (Boksuneun naui geot), Canada (Eve and the Fire Horse), and now, Romania, albeit a US film. Three have revenge themes, two have multicultural themes, two deal with needed kidney transplants, and they all deal with family. There are many things in these films that make you want to think and think hard. Sure, there is also a lot of humor, but it never gets in the way of the themes.

Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum, Hot Fuzz) gets screwed big-time at work. He is exposed to 1000 rems of plutonium. He knows he only has days to live and his bosses are not interested in doing anything but covering their butts. Sound familiar? Anyway, he steals 100 grams of PU-236 to help his family.

At the same time, there are three low-level thugs who are also dying. They have 72 hours to pay off the big boss for their mistake. One of them, Shiv (Oscar Isaac) comes in contact with Timofey, and stumbles through a plan to solve both their problems.

A comedy of errors ensues with Shiv's partners, Jason Flemyng (The Red Violin, Transporter 2) and Jordan Long. These two are just about the dumbest thieves in the business and they get a fantastic high at the end that will have you rolling on the floor.

Comedy and tragedy mix well in Scott Z. Burns's (The Bourne Ultimatum, An Inconvenient Truth) film. It is a shame that it probably won't get a theatrical release.

And, it's a real treat to see Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, Man on Fire).

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Movie shown on HBO as "PU-239"

8/10
Author: Mike (fmadams) from Hutto, TX
18 December 2007

This is what Indie films are all about. An excellent flick, acting, plot, script, and all else very well done. On HBO this movie is billed as PU-239 so keep an eye out for it, but be careful what you inhale while watching it!

Having been a physics major I can state that as far as the science goes the movie is loyal. Science, however, is just background. This movie is really about the human spirit continually battling against despair; the human condition and the lengths we will go to kill one another and to love one another; human ignorance and human intelligence, but without humility, and the trouble it will get us all into; and "in the end, everything decays into lead", like bullets, and the fact that no one gets out alive.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Silkwood Meets Eastern Promises

7/10
Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
24 February 2008

PU-239 is one of those movies where you find yourself without much to say about it. Paddy Considine, Oscar Isaac, Stephen Berkoff, and Radha Mitchell give decent performances and the film is not badly directed, but what cinema should do that PU-239 does not is leave you with a passionate reaction. I found that after having watched it, it was more like it was something on a list that I could check off and move on rather than an experience or an entertainment. It isn't even boring. It just doesn't reach. That's the reason why one feels so indifferent towards it. The plot is interesting:

Considine plays a family man who works at a top-secret, worryingly shabby plutonium plant in a Russian town after the fall of the Soviet Union, and he's exposed to radiation while trying to stop a malfunction. The facility's managers try to convince Considine and also themselves that his exposure was a survivable 100 REMs, while accusing him of sabotage and suspending him without pay, but his colleagues help him discover the truth, which is that he was exposed to ten times the amount of radiation that the managers maintained he had. It's stated by one character in the movie that people in Hiroshima were exposed to less.

So, with only days to live, and not letting his wife, played by Mitchell, know of his fate, Considine goes to Moscow. He hooks up with a small-time gangster, played by Isaac, who is in a great predicament himself, in hopes of finding someone to whom he can sell a vial of weapons-grade plutonium he has stolen from his plant so that he can send money back to his family to secure their future, though he states various times that his town is not on the map, which makes it unfeasible to send his letter home, much less any money. What's interesting about the dynamic between Considine and Isaac is that they never really form a bond, one being earnestly cooperative in his final days of life and one being frantic for his own interests to survive an almost as likely fate. Yet, they both have the interests of a wife and child in mind and have the same drive under those circumstances.

But the Russian mobsters are too cinematic for a story as real and historical as this one. They do things only Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, and David Mamet characters do, especially Isaac's boss, who delivers a silly, unrealistic monologue when he first appears that in reality would have his listeners lost.

This is not a bad film. It just minimizes the effect it could've had.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Dark and Depressive Story

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
29 August 2011

In Russia, the technician and family man Timofey (Paddy Considine) is exposed to 1,000 REMS (Radiation Exposure Monitoring Systems) of radiation in the nuclear facility where he works. The facility director hides the level of exposure from Timofey and tries to force him to assume the blame for the accident and puts Timofey in unpaid leave.

Aware that the exposure is lethal and feeling the sickness of radiation, Timofey steals 100 mg of plutonium and heads to Moscow expecting to sell it in the black market per US$ 30,000.00 to give to his wife Marina (Radha Mitchell) and his seven year-old son Tolya (Danya Baryshnikov).

Meanwhile, the smalltime criminal Shiv (Oscar Isaac) and the gangsters Vlad (Jason Flemyng) and Yegor (Jordan Long) need to pay US$ 6,000.00 to the powerful mobster Starkov (Steven Berkoff) in 72 hours. When Shiv meets Timofey trying to sell the PU-239, he sees the chance to pay his debts and make some money. But he is incompetent and gets in trouble with powerful mobsters.

"PU-239" is a dark and depressive story about a family man that is exposed to lethal doses of radiation. His desperation with his situation leads him to try to raise money to improve the lives of his wife and his son selling plutonium that he has stolen from the nuclear plant. But his useless associate is unable to sell the good. The result is tragic and ironic, with a questionable black humor, in a weird combination of drama and comedy. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "PU-239"

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Triumphant Success

9/10
Author: muaddibjsk from United States
6 April 2008

"Pu-239", or "The Half Life of Timofey Berezin" is a film set in post cold war Russia. A land ruled by competing Russian Mafia factions and run by aging, failing nuclear power plants. Timofey Berezin, a nuclear power plant technician finds himself exposed to an excessive amount of radiation caused from a near failure at the plant he works at. Eventually he learns that his company has lied to him about the extent of the exposure and he only has a matter of days to live before being overcome from radiation sickness and poisoning. His one mission is to secure a safe and healthy future for his wife and son that he will be leaving behind. His solution, steal a small amount of weapons grade plutonium (Pu-239) with the intent to sell it on the black market in Moscow, and give the money to his family. Timofey is played by actor Paddy Considine, most recently known for his role as the reporter Simon Ross in "The Bourne Ultimatum". Considine's portrayal of Timofey has similarities to that of Simon Ross. However, where Ross seemed to be the naive innocent victim of circumstances way beyond his expectations, he plays Timofey as a humble innocent man trying to serve his duty to his country, people and family, yet when faced with a horrific situation, he meets it head on with unswerving determination and resolve. The humanity and innocence mixed with cold steely tenacity that Considine brings to this character is haunting and brilliant. A truly beautiful and powerful performance. Timofey's wife, Marina is played by Radha Mitchell, an actress I have always found to have tremendous depth and power. Though many of her roles in the past seem to me to be beneath her potential (i.e. "Pitch Black", "Silent Hill") she always seems to shine through with grit and an immense presence. Pu-239 is no exception to this. Though the role is fairly minor, her abilities make it shine out bright and true in this film. Also featured prominently is the character of Shiv, played by relative newcomer Oscar Isaac. Though initially, Shiv's character seems like an obvious comic relief spot in what is otherwise a haunting and depressing world we eventually see a much greater depth to him. On the surface he seems like a two bit punk playing at being a big time Russian gangster. Yet we see in numerous instances a much more troubled and torn soul. Shiv is a man forced into his role of hustler/strongman who seems to be yearning to understand how to be a strong provider for his son and girlfriend. Though he does everything he can to hide this emotional "weakness" from those around him we see it time and time again play out in his desperation and hope for a life beyond what he has found. The clash of Shiv and Timofey's characters is a profound one. One is a man that has become an educated yet unappreciated (and eventually abandoned) scientist, who has given his life for his loved ones. The other, a criminal dealing in extortion and prostitution, desperately trying to save his hopeless life. Yet when sitting side by side, one can't ignore the similarities between them. Both in hopeless struggles for their own lives, and both yearning to provide something better for those they care for. Two starkly different paths, converged to a single moment and place in time. The shining star in this film though, are the poetic monologues placed throughout. Read by Considine, these profound thoughts on a nuclear world, a world where utter annihilation rests in a silent, invisible force that "rewrites your very DNA", resonate in an eerie, forbidding and ominous tone. They flow through this film so subtly you almost miss the power and potency of them until, like aftershocks, their ghostly beauty crashes upon the listeners consciousness. First time director, Scott Burns (co-writer of "The Bourne Ultimatum") artistically contrasts, in both music and color, the bleak hopeless life of Timofey with the flashy, colorful, yet hollow and meaningless life of Shiv. Beautiful imagery, awe inspiring monologues, and powerfully acted characters fill the screen of "Pu-239". For a team of relative newcomers, "Pu-239" is a triumphant success.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Good movie..thoughtful..different

7/10
Author: rdambroso from United States
31 December 2007

I didn't have high expectations here. It was on cable, and relatively unknown. This wasn't a great movie, but it was good. I thought the character development was done well, the acting was good, and the plot was well, er, OK. I guess this was based on a short story, so it must have been troubling to develop this into a full length (almost) feature film. We used the familyometer on this one. My wife gave it a pass within 5 minutes, but my daughter and I gave it a shot. She really liked it, I liked it, and it didn't grab my wife at all. There was a very funny scene which I won't give details on which involved a scene where a Russian was commenting on all things American. He made obscure connections between several recognizable names in our culture, and really did a hack job of it, but it was one of the lighter moments. The heavier moments were dark, and sad. I would recommend seeing it. If you make it past the first 10 minutes, you will probably enjoy it as I did.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Somber and decent.

6/10
Author: vram22 from United States
22 November 2007

This movie was OK. It was not quite great, but interesting enough to be a bit above average. It starts out great, but then settles into a kind of blandness for the rest of the film.

Basically, the movie is about a man who is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation in a nuclear power plant in Russia. Knowing he is going to die soon, he absconds with a small amount of plutonium and attempts to sell it on the black market ... all to help provide for his family.

If the plot sounds interesting, the movie somehow drains the intensity out of it. The middle 90% of the movie is basically uneventful and focused on a slightly deranged mob-related fellow that the main character meets. More than anything, the movie depicts the degenerating state of affairs of two very different individuals who get linked up.

The movie is somewhat interesting and unusual, but I can't find a good reason to recommend it. If you end up watching it for a little while, just keep in mind, it won't get any better.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

excellent

10/10
Author: dawin45 from Romania
28 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It fills my heart to see such great drama... especially of man that steals for his own family's safety and wealth...and there's another guy that has to pay back the dept of his stupidity to a big gangster pimp... but in all that drama there was a comic glitch in it when the thugs of that Indian guy...started inhaling plutonium because they where thinking it was cocaine...I can't believe this was made in Romania...Well all the structures look kind of Romanian but the skyscrapers that where borrowed from Moscow where fake because Bucharest doesn't have skyscrapers...

This Movie should have won some awards if you ask me...

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