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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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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Somber and decent.

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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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The Nuclear Genie in the Hands of Oafs

Author: Jaybird248 from United States
23 November 2007

I also came across this movie as I channel surfed. Didn't even know the name of it, but was fascinated by it's authenticity, being filmed behind the former Iron Curtain.

Russia has always been a paradox, in many ways a 3rd world nation, yet a military superpower. The themes it dealt with, the worthlessness of the individual, the carelessness of dealing with unbelievably dangerous substances in such an offhand way, the ass-covering behavior of bureaucrats, the stupidity of the Russian mafia, all are classic and well developed in the film. All are characteristic of Russia, yet this story could have happened anywhere. Really scares you to think that, given the bell curve of any group of humans, the nuclear genie is actually in the hands of such oafs.

Worth watching, worth talking and thinking about.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Hard and Harsh portrayal

Author: sergepesic from Minneapolis, USA
26 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Russia in the early 1990's was a scary place, maybe even scarier than during communism. The whole system broke down completely, and the ruthless thugs ran the country without any scruples. This is a story about a decent man exposed to lethal dose of radiation, who doesn't have anybody to turn to in his predicament. So in order to provide some future for his family, he steals 100 grams of plutonium to sell on a black market. Needless to say nothing goes as planned. This is a hard and harsh portrayal of Russia under Boris Yeltcin( the sweetheart of the West). His corrupt regime enabled his cronies to still Russia blind. Excellent acting in-spite of exaggerating accents. Another winner from HBO.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Remarkable and astounding movie

Author: wildaly14 from Puerto Rico
20 November 2007

Saw this film by chance on HBO, mostly just to see what it was about and not really planning to see it all the way and I found myself watching the whole thing as it turned out to be a truly remarkable film. As written in the plot outline, the story is about a worker at a nuclear facility who gets contaminated with plutonium.

Though the actual movie is about what happens after the man is exposed, since the scene where he gets infected is actually only the first 5 minutes of the movie. The film goes back and forth between the story of this man, Timofey, and a seemingly unimportant situation that arises between a group of three incompetent thugs. Soon enough, we witness one of these thugs, Shiv, as his own story is revealed, create some depth into a character one might think was utterly unimportant. The plot of the movie revolves around the fact that Timofey, after being laid off from his work without pay and no compensation even after his exposure to the plutonium, specifically PU-236 after which the film is named, decides to steal 100 grams of plutonium from the same facility he works at.

As for the acting, I say that the entire cast does a quite good job at giving us a glimpse into this underworld at the other side of the world that really isn't that different from our own. Timofey's narration, though it seemed strange at first, as the story developed gave us insight not only into his mind but to some very true in the facts of life. As for Radha Mitchell, who was the only actress I recognized in the ensemble, though that does not make the film any weaker by obscurity of the rest, turns in a subtle and shrewd performance that in my opinion really brings a lot of emotional depth into the film to add to Timofey's story. The film is not without its funny moments which are delivered by the incompetent thugs as well as Shiv.

I will also take note of the score of the film for its subtlety since it is truly barely noticeable though at the same time truly brilliant.

One cannot really say what this movie will say to you or if you will get anything from it at all. In my case, it moved me incredibly and brought about a whole new outlook on some issues that I'm sure many know absolutely nothing about. As mentioned before, Timothy's narration brings about some very memorable quotes and I'm surprised none have been added yet to the Plot & Quotes section.

I'm not sure if this movie is currently available anywhere else other than HBO, but if you do manage to come by it, I HIGHLY recommend it and I'm sure that the ending alone makes it worth the watch.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This film filled my expectations

Author: cranberry_dude from Puerto Rico
18 November 2007

This film filled my expectations; when i saw that kind of title i thought this movie was going to be different-and it was. A semi-foreign style to it, PU-239 try to tells us the story of this guy that gets radiation poisoning in this secret facility, with plutonium, and how it affects his relation to his family. The only thing i actually didn't like(because the movie tells some interesting facts about the chemical elements among other things and that's a plus to the movie) was the addition to a gang-like story to collide with this guy's(Timofey)search for justice and money to sustain his family due to being fired from the facility; it wasn't necessary that addition, i would've liked it better if it were more concentrated on Timofey. But overall is a must-see movie, not a great one but a worthy watching at home.

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finding a best use for nuclear waste

Author: ReliableSource from Catskill Mountains-New York, USA
16 November 2013

Based on a Ken Kalfus short story, Pu-239, published in 1999.

Pu-239 was writer/director, Scott Burns, 1st movie. It's a character driven little gem, produced on a small budget, but delivering a far better product than Hollywood's money driven movies can.

Shot in Romania and Russia, with a low cost pickup cast and crew, Pu-239 , with dark humor, very engagingly explores how uncontainable the hazard of nuclear waste can become in an amoral gangster governed, collapsing society... and, in its karmic justice ending, Pu-239 suggests how nuclear waste might be packaged for best use distribution.

Viewers should understand that when the Soviet Union collapsed, it began to earnestly emulate America, Inc.

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Very well done. Very depressing too. Pointless maybe?

Author: David Traversa from Argentina
30 May 2011

Dark and grim. Excellent performances. I didn't know any of the actors, so that made the experience more intense. They were to me the real characters of a very dismal film, almost as if I was watching a documentary.

I think the only two redeemable characters are the husband and wife --with their little boy-- while all the rest of the coterie are as awful as they come.

What horrible people! and the richer they were the more disgusting and vulgar they seemed to be! I think nobody accomplishes anything in this story, and if some of them did before we get to know them, living in supernatural riches and comfort --easy money-- it didn't last too long...

Interesting movie, although I don't really get the point of watching the ups and downs of such depressing characters.

One thing bothered me throughout the whole film: Why do they insist --English spoken films-- in having "foreigners" speaking English (as if it was the native tongue) with an accent of the real "native" language (whichever country they represent in a movie)??

That makes the whole movie phony, because no "native" of any country speaks his mother tongue with an accent.

Elemental Watson.

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misery and little value of today's life

Author: João Paulo Bezerra de Menezes ( from Fortaleza, Brazil
6 August 2009

This movie is about the human misery inequalities of ordinary people's life in Russia. It has accomplished its task with excellence, in bringing the story of the two fathers that are capable of giving their lives to protect their families, and showing how little recognition and compensations their efforts ans sacrifices achieve.

It involves the jobless single mother, who is about to abandon her child in order to live with a mob leader; the father who literally kills himself for his family at a nuclear factory; the lack of people's rights, due to the denial of labor rights for the injured worker; the stupid mobster, who humiliates himself for granting a survival for his son; and so on. It also shows a double murder on the middle of a street, denouncing this way the lawlessness which is granted to powerful mobsters on Russia.

The only fault is the way the two supporting mob characters are portrayed. There is a sense of humor on their roles, humor which extracts some of the drama and tension the is supplied by the main character. This way, the climax of the movie is not at the level of tragedy that it should be.

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Thoughtful, gripping, and grim

Author: kburditt
8 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a grim film, done thoughtfully and with a gripping message. It speaks to the basic decency of most human beings, and the drastic measures that corrupt governments and societies force people to take for survival.

I found some compelling comparisons presented in this movie. The grim and colorless lives of the well educated and basically decent nuclear power plant workers versus the posh and colorful lives of the ignorant and brutish Mob bosses. The two father's love for their sons and their desire to protect and provide for their sons. That love and the basic decency is what keeps these two men partners for that fateful day. The mother's of the sons - who are both survivors, and in many ways smarter and tougher than their men. The drastic measures that the dying man takes versus the frantic measures the thug takes. But both fail at the end because the particular low level Russian mob scene is too stupid and too myopic to see the golden egg dropped in their laps. At the end, when the two miscreants open Pandora's box and waste what they find on their own short 'lived' pleasure - is a message for the rest of us - we will kill ourselves through our ignorance.

One would hope this concept was true and neophyte stealing nuclear material would have a hard time finding an actual buyer. You just can't print a sign and expect a N. Korean dictator to show up.

One other thought - the scene where the thug father and his son talk about American pop culture I initially thought was the usual garbling of a foreign culture. But at the end it seemed more like an elaborate word game the two played that included American words. Just the kind of game that a father and son would play.

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Author: dreamfragments from United States
5 November 2008

I found this movie after scanning through the HBO channels one night, and I'm glad I did. This is a very touching film. Honestly, I'm surprised I haven't seen it shown again or haven't seen people talk more about it, which is a shame because I think this movie is quite exceptional.

The story is that of a Russian nuclear facility worker, who through unfortunate events and circumstances, is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. The facility tries to hide the actual condition he is in, but he eventually stumbles upon the truth. Knowing his life is cut down to a matter of days, the movie follows his path of selling plutonium he has stolen from the facility in order to make money for his family.

I wholeheartedly recommend this movie. If you can buy this or watch it, do so! You will not regret it.

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