Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: F. Murray Abraham, Sam Robards, Ally Sheedy, Oksana Stashenko, Jicky Schnee
Director: Slava Tsukerman
An astrophysicist returns to Russia after emigrating to the US seventeen years earlier. Formerly branded a traitor by the government, he is now seen as a hero, as the period of Perestroika (The Restructuring) has turned ev... more »
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 10/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
New from Strand Releasing is "Perestroika", a film that looks at Russia during the period when public and private lives are reassessed radically. Sasha Greenberg worked as an astrophysicist in the United States for 17 years when he is invited to his native country to speak at a congress on Cosmology. He now has to face colleagues and deal with several unanswered personal questions. He begins to witness the social and sexual upheavals as a civilization crisis takes place and he understands that his own obsessions are a mirror reflection of the universe, itself.
I love this film even with all of its confusion--it is both talky and crowded but it is also adroitly done. Sam Robards is Greenberg who put himself in self-imposed exile in the United States almost 20 years before the movie begins. He left Russia as a traitor in 1992 but he returns as a hero and he discovers that he is torn between his two countries and between science and morality. Then he also has four women that tear at him as well. His wife, played by Ally Sheedy, is not the kind of woman most would want to come home too so he has looked elsewhere. His return to Russia forces him to confront his past and in doing so he learns a great deal about himself.
Ably directed by Slava Tsukerman ("Liquid Sky"), the movie uses flashbacks to show Sasha's past and the shifts in chronology often seem to distract. We watch as dream sequences turn into reality and the visuals are both provocative and stylish and the screenplay is brilliant but the one thing lacking here is emotion. The film is a combination of documentary and fiction, politics and science, important structure and incompetent drama. There is plenty on the screen to see as the director is a maximalist but the confusion provides for some thought provoking moments. I found the film to be compelling as well as funny in a touching way and even though it is a bit strange, it is completely entertaining.
An out of focus view of a visit to post-Soviet 1992 Moscow.
Saty Satya Murti | NorthEast Kansas | 12/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a slow rambling movie narrated by an astrophysicist who returns to Moscow in 1992 after emigrating to USA 17 years earlier. His tale is a melange of picking up severed personal acquaintances, reestablishing dalliances and reconciling with the post-Soviet zeitgeist of Moscow. Sasha Greenberg (Sam Robards) is so nostalgic for the Moscow he knew as a youngster that he is quite unable to accept the new Russia. May be it is too tawdry and too giddy for him, but all of his former colleagues including his mentor Prof. Gross. (F. Murray Abraham) dote over his return and his fame. It is a stretch to go much beyond this return-of-the- homeboy story to allegory or lasting nuggets of wisdom.
Sasha expects much from his childhood dream town but finds that it has changed beyond both visual recognition and comprehension. There is freedom that is sometimes out of restraint, emerging mores and unfamiliar culture everywhere. Even among local citizens there is debate: some like these changes and other don't. Family structure has become fragile and some even wish for a return of the old order. Sasha flits from wife to girlfriend to wife, falls briefly in love with a girl 17 years younger, whom he could have fathered. One of his many concurrent loves is Helen (Ally Sheedy). His vodka-nicotine dependence is impressive. He is adored everywhere because he has returned even if only for a visit. His mentor waxes audibly at a party about finding happiness within and not be persuaded by the new or old Russia.
There is uncertainty about how well perestroika will work. In fact perestroika becomes a metaphor for restructuring which adolescence and middle age can bring on. Most get over this but some do not. Our protagonist wonders aloud if humans are inherently destructive of themselves and their planet. These debates, however, are not the focus of the film; they are set pari passu with banal daily life events of the major characters.
On the positive side, there are a few pieces of insightful, philosophical dialogue and pleasing vistas of local buildings and environs. The droning narratives tend to be tepid. They are better suited for a play or documentary rather than a movie. The past and the present visual sequences are technically seamless but also disturbingly confusing. I had difficulty deciphering the "now" and the "then." The overall impression I got is one of an important tale that is out of focus most of the time. This is why I chose a three star rating."