I may be one of few Russians who were happy that this film was actually being made. And critical as we may be of certain aspects (I'm a rare one for scripts), Veselchaki is without a doubt a great achievement.
Those who are better versed in all things queer state that the film is heavily influenced by Priscilla the Queen of Desert. Veselchaki follow the last day in the lives of 5 travesty actors who tell their life stories to a journalist who is trying to figure out why they do what they do.
Whatever the influence, one thing is true: this is a ground-breaking film. The point is not merely that for years travesty actors and Russian gay people have lived in all sorts of closets. The point is that the very attempt to bring these characters to screen is often thwarted by the omnipresent disdain, guilt and shame, whereby the characters appear comical and unreal.
The film's English title is the same as that of 1934 musical comedy about a Soviet jazz band. Arguably, the only thing the Soviet and the modern Russian film have in common is the musical component. Love in 2009 is a hard thing for travesty guys to find; yet each of the five life stories brims with truthfulness, and this is a good achievement.
It is also wonderful that straight actors appeared as queer folk in the movie. There is a tendency to believe that wearing female clothes is a no-no for a man, even an actor. The leading Soviet actors, such Oleg Tabakov or Alexander Kalyagin, successfully donned wigs, stockings and skirts to portray their female characters. Yet this may be seen as a Shakespearean trend, whereas travesty actors practically bare it all to entertain the public with not so classical tastes. The crew dealt with this openly, escaping the safe option of beating around the bush. Travesty performance, male legs in stockings, obvious reference to a gay erotic scene - all this make Veselchaki a good European film, free from usual attempts at "Russification".
Like I said, especially as someone who writes for a living, the story could be better explored. Towards the end characters appear out of the blue; this may have to do with editing, but, as with the scene when one of the characters is murdered, the only way to guess such twist was coming was the trailer that hinted at the meet-up in Paradise. And yet I am still glad such film appeared in my native country. As for scripts, I'll happily to write one for the next Russian movie in queer genre ;-)
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