Ivan Mirosnikov, a cheeky young man in the Gorbachev era, is trying to figure out what to do with his life (he's not in college, and the 2-year mandatory military service is looming large ahead of him). Meanwhile, he lives with his divorced mother, and works as a courier at a Russian newspaper. Through his job, he meets patronizing Professor Kuznetzov and his rebellious daughter Katya. To annoy the professor, Ivan claims to have an affair with Katya. To his surprise, Katya backs his story up.Written by
Seeing from advance screenings that the film was appealing largely to teenage audiences, the original June release date was postponed since in the USSR at that time young people tended to engage in outdoor activities or leave town for travel during the summer. See more »
I imagine that Courier holds a similar place in Russian youth culture to the role John Hughes' movies hold in American culture; at the very least, I hope it does. Shakhnazarov's film is recognizably set in the 1980's, but it also seems to be timeless (besides the idiosyncratically 80's music), and this is perhaps due to the selective portrayal of Moscow. The majority of cinematic depictions of the city, where famous locations are shown at a remarkable landmark to frame ratio, make the city so prominent that it's hard to differentiate it from human characters. In Courier, however, the uniformity of Soviet dwellings and buildings make the city anonymous; the only obvious references to it are in name only. This adds to the universality of the film and Ivan's experiences. While Ivan frustrates with his nonchalance and frequent lying, the poetic scenes that Shakhnazarov fits in the corners belie the heart of the film, as well as the inner workings of Ivan's mind. Stereotypically "African" warriors haunt his dreams; he converses with a bust of his very-much-alive father in a mausoleum. At the end of the day, Ivan comes off as scared and confused at the aftermath of his parents' divorce that overshadows his mother's and his own life. The film vacillates between a gritty, saturated daily life and a surreal subconscious effortlessly. By the end, the viewer finds themselves sympathizing with Ivan. It is an accessible film for all ages in any era, although unfortunately my own life doesn't include break dancing to heavy synthesizers as the sun sets.
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