17 user 2 critic

A Cruel Romance (1984)

Zhestokiy romans (original title)
A bitter story about tender love and its cruel betrayal set in Russia of the 19th century.


Eldar Ryazanov


Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (play) (as A. N. Ostrovskiy), Eldar Ryazanov


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alisa Freyndlikh ... Ogudalova
Larisa Guzeeva ... Larisa
Nikita Mikhalkov ... Paratov
Andrey Myagkov ... Karandyshev
Aleksey Petrenko ... Knurov
Viktor Proskurin ... Vozhevatov
Georgiy Burkov ... Robinzon
Tatyana Pankova ... Efrosinya Potapovna
Borislav Brondukov ... Ivan
Aleksandr Pyatkov ... Gavrilo
Yuriy Sarantsev ... Kapitan
Olga Volkova ... Modistka
Dmitriy Buzylyov-Kretso Dmitriy Buzylyov-Kretso ... Ilya (as Dmitriy Buzylyov)
Aleksandr Pankratov-Chyornyy ... Ofitser
Sergey Artsibashev ... Gulyaev


Cinematographic adaptation of classical Russian play "Dowry-less" by A. Ostrovsky. Noble but poor widow seeks to arrange marriage for her three daughters. She maintains "open house" or provincial form of salon hoping to attract gentlemen well-off enough to marry for love to a dowry-less. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

russia | based on play | See All (2) »


Drama | History | Romance


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Soviet Union



Release Date:

18 September 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Cruel Romance See more »

Filming Locations:

Kostroma, Russia

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Version of Without Dowry (1937) See more »


Romans o romanse
Written by Andrei Petrov and Bella Akhmadulina
Performed by Valentina Ponomaryova
See more »

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User Reviews

Russian Beauty
28 October 2015 | by jannetpadillaSee all my reviews

On the surface, this movie looks like it's possibly just another romantic drama about a girl and her suitors, but take a look again!! There is much more to this precious film than meets the eye. For starters, our lead lady, Larissa, appears to be every guy's dream girl. She is beautiful, graceful, has a soothing voice and has different males vying for her attention. With all these qualities, one would think that she is in control of her life and should get what she wants, but instead she is caught in a world where she is powerless and is pushed and pulled one way and another. As strong as she appears, she seems to have an inescapable fate no matter what she does, and her attempts at removing herself from it just causes further issues. Upon her realization, it is interesting and a bit gloomy what she chooses to do upon realizing her fate(but you'll have to watch to find out).

There are many subtle symbols spread throughout the film and they are enjoyable to spot. I love when movies tell their story not only with the characters, but with the environment and this film definitely adds those eye catching little details. It adds a sense of artistry, to what is an already a visually pleasing film. However you do not need to understand or spot the small inferences to enjoy the film, the film as a whole is enjoyable as is as well. However if you are familiar with a little Russian culture, literature, or the play altogether it will get you thinking.

It is important to note that the film is originally based on the play called "the Dowerless bride." A dowry is the property or money a bride will bring to a man if he gets married to her. Well, the film is centered around wealth, the wealthy, and how to maintain wealth so for our lead to be "without dowry," (and yet still be adored) you can see how it can lead to complications. It brings to light necessary topics of women, objectivity, a patriarch society and the harsh reality of a capitalistic world.

All the surrounding men play their parts great and I love that there is a wide cast of characters. The two main male leads are intriguing in the way they develop. (or not develop in some cases). We don't just have the "charismatic" guy, but also have the shy "little man," the wealthy men, gypsies, and serfs. All part of the Russian culture. It is a great film to get a small taste of the Russian lifestyle, but there are also many aspects and behaviors that are not so different than our own.

The film itself is very pleasing to the eye. The costumes are gorgeous and sometimes looking at the modernity of the film, I forgot these folks were in Russia. The style is similar to that of a Russian Audrey Hepburn film, but definitely has its own dark take on matters inside it. I hope you enjoy it as I did.

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