Irishman Johnny O’Reilly has written and directed this Moscow-set, Russian language drama, which tells five stories that take place on City Day.
We have the alcoholic famous actor, who escapes hospital to seek out alcohol, but instead finds himself kidnapped at gunpoint and brought to a dubious apartment, to impress his kidnapper’s family.
There are the bickering polar-opposite stepsisters, who are sent out to enjoy the celebrations so their parents can throw a party. However they find themselves in a very precarious situation.
We also meet the wealthy businessman who has been frozen out of his own deal, and decides to leave the city for good and go to New York. Meanwhile, his much younger girlfriend is torn between him and her former lover, who just happens to be the son of the aforementioned famous actor. And there is also a storyline featuring the stepsisters grandmother, who is signed into a care home by her family, leading to tremendous guilt for her grandson.
The problem with movies such as this, which try to intertwine several different tales, is that it usually means the stories are underdeveloped, and that is the case here. Many of the characters feel underwritten, as O’Reilly tries to move the movie along. They also feel like stereotypes. It is lacking in light and shade, and there are none of the subtle nuances that draw an audience in to a story. Also, many of the tales are predictable, telegraphing where they are going early on, so that you don’t really care about the conclusion.
On the plus side, the performances are great, and the cinematography is stunning. O’Reilly has lived in Moscow for 12 years, and you can see his affection for the city in the visuals. The soundtrack is also fantastic. It is just a shame that these positive factors are let down by an overly-ambitious concept.
O’Reilly obviously had a vision for this film, but I can’t help but feel he tried to do too much. The movie makes no real statement, and if he had perhaps taken one story and expanded it to a full length feature, instead of tackling several, then this may have been an interesting watch. As it is, this is lacking in surprises, and doesn’t leave you feeling anything much about what you have just watched.
In Cinemas Now! See trailer below: