Marina is a gorgeous upper-crust Muscovite with an opulent wardrobe and good-looking husband to match. She's employed as a social worker, a profession offering meager financial rewards. Thankfully her affluent father provides the supplementary income her job, and her hapless husband, cannot. Yet instead of finding contentment in her win-win situation, Marina carries on an affair with her best friend's husband, and also initiates a bizarre series of erotic encounters with a deadbeat cop who previously raped her. Written by
Depressing portrait of Russian society, not only targeting the police force but also Russian people in general
I saw this film as part of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2012. The police force is used here as the main target while portraying Russian society. Firstly, we have the main plot in the form of three policemen raping around when they get the chance. This alone might be dismissed as an exception to the rule (the proverbial rotten apples). But secondly, we also observe how a law abiding citizen is treated when reporting a stolen passport, where the attitude of the police completely defeats the purpose of bringing a crime to the their attention.
But it is not only the police, albeit on itself enough to leave us with a depressed feeling. The film extends above observations to society in general. For example, it demonstrates you can't expect decent service as a paying customer in a restaurant. And most bystanders are not very helpful either for someone in need, the one exception we see only serving to prove the rule.
Life goes on, even after a radical experience like a rape. Rather than telling family and friends about the dire event, we see it burn inside the victim and change her behavior in many ways: as a social worker (suspecting sex abuse everywhere), and as a family member (insulting all guests one-by-one at a party for her birthday). Following the latter she gets the usual advice to "take a break".
Instead, she proceeds in an unexpected manner, by approaching one of the raping police men. What initially starts as an act of revenge in the elevator (we see her entering with a broken bottle in hand), suddenly turns into a love affair. She even lives with him for a few weeks, cooks his dinner, scrubs his bath tub, and more things for which we cannot begin to understand her underlying motives.
This could have been a great movie, were it not that several scenes were shown out of sequence, thereby causing some confusion. This was not a matter of flash back or forward, which we can cope with as a generally accepted way of story telling. I rather fear it being an attempt to throw a new format on us, about which the professional critics can write and applaud its newness. We, the general public, have our rights too, and want to understand what is going on and how the plot fits together. Nevertheless, I gave the maximum score for the audience award when leaving the theater, due to its contents and particularly how we got some insight in Russian society of today.
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