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The starting scene was fantastic and it raised my expectations to a level that the rest of the movie was not able to reach. Still, in overall this is a very imaginative movie with a lot of extremely funny gags. Its humour is typically sarcastic and its surrealism is rather imaginative. (Russians - their literature and their films - have always been strong in these...) If you can tolerate slow-paced movies then you will enjoy this one, assuming that you have a chance to see it in your local cinema.
It might be hard to believe that the protagonist's wife would begin an affair with their new neighbor immediately when he comes over and invites her to the bathroom, or that the neighbor's wife had long admired him and that they fall immediately in love, but it's played with a straightforward seriousness that makes it both more interesting and more funny.
It's a less a history of poisoning than a clever story about poisoning, illustrated in inventive ways throughout the film by historical asides and imagined banquets with poisoners that manager never to be intrusive and are instead interesting and funny. On the whole, the frank-but-bizarre tone resembles the director's earlier "City Zero," but this film is far more entertaining, witty, and trippingly-paced.
Oleg Basilashvili has always been great in roles I've seen him in, and this is no exception; he makes the part of the somehow-dignified but poison-obsessed pensioner miraculously come off perfectly naturally. All this plus a very witty script make this a dryly hilarious, macabre film that's very easy to recommend.
I would like to invite visitors to see pictures from the movie and watch a detailed trailer at RussArt.com. Those who read Russian can find more materials useful: reviews, actor biographies, articles, etc.