Monday, January 4, 2010

The Barber of Siberia

Last night I was introduced to one of the Russian classics, "The Barber of Siberia," and I was asked to give an honest, unbiased review of the film. Please keep in mind that I am not the best film critic and many of my favorites consist of brainless romantic comedies, however, I have seen many films which have left an imprint on my brain and which I hold high esteem for, such as: Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Casablanca, The Green Mile, Seabiscuit, etc. This in mind, here goes my first movie review...

After the movie started, my first thought was that it must be an old movie, based on the camera views and acting. After Lyosha assured me that it was not that old, my criticism began to ease and I started to view the movie as purely a source of entertainment, rather than art.

All of the actors were mediocre in the film. The only two which seemed relatively convincing were Douglas McCracken and the General, who both seemed to be stereotypical drunks of Russia.

The movie is supposed to be a love story, however, I was less than convinced that there was any hint of love or other emotions being transferred from one character to the next. When the idea of love was mentioned for the first time, I was rather confused because I did not understand where it was coming from.

The plot itself was very entertaining, especially for someone who is unfamiliar with Russian traditions. I understand that the director of the film is famous for his attempts to glorify Russia, but he did it in a tasteful and fun manner. Full of snow, alcohol, fights, explosions, and hormone driven men, this movie is truly a good laugh. Although it was entirely predictable (as most movies are), Nikita Mikhalkov proved that even unoriginal story lines can be satisfying.

I don't know how much truth there is to any of the traditions mentioned in the movie, but I would recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in Russian culture, as there is not one hint of unhappiness portrayed by the country or it's inhabitants, only cheerful citizens and beautiful scenery. Out of a possible 10, I would rate this movie a 6 or 7.

ps If you have any other Russian movie recommendations, please don't hesitate to share them!


Igor said...

You are a real movie critic :-)
Unlike blockbusters, all the serious movies involve the background knowledge of the subject. (IMHO "The Barber of Siberia" is not serious movie)

I like another Mikhalkov's movie - "Urga".
In fact I hate Mikhalkov as person and respect him as movie director.

Also I can recomend Aleksandr Rogozhkin's film "Kukushka" (cuckoo). See it with subtitle only, not voice translation. Three main characters speak in their own language, not understanding each other. For fun you can turn subtitles off. :-)

Eugene said...

Thanks for the review =)

Did you watch the film with its original sountrack? or it was an english version?

Julie said...

I watched it in Russian, with English subtitles. I would say that nearly 50% of the movie was in English already, though! I would never watch a Russian movie unless I used the original soundtrack because it would not be very educational for me otherwise :)

shamannn said...

Mikhalkov has an interesting remake of "12 Angry Men", which is called "12". Comparing these two movies may be interesting for you.