Director: Mikhail Segal
Cast: Andrei Merzlikin, Igor Ugolnikov, Tamara Mironova, Konstantin Ushkevich
A writer’s rejected manuscript for a collection of short stories finds its way into the hands of various employees of the stylish publishing house with each of the readers’ lives becoming linked to the tales that they read. These four wonderfully integrated stories provide an exhilarating cinematic ride that mixes a humorously droll social commentary with a characteristically Russian perspective on the seemingly modern but in many ways unchanged national culture. The film combines concerns over westernisation and Russian traditions, the endless cycle of bribery that starts from the smallest kickback and goes all the way up to the very top, the obsession with high culture and the enormous influence of great literary figures in solving contemporary problems. The narratives imperceptibly transform from the mundane to soar with the absurd. The tone is sharp, the observations astute and the style unique. Beautifully filmed with crisp exposition this is an intelligent and pleasurable study of contemporary Russia that is immensely satisfying.