Thursday, 10 November 2011

Alexei Uchitel: The Stroll - Прогулка (2003)

Directed by: Alexey Uchitel
Scenario: Dunya Smirnova
Camera operators: Yuriy Klimenko, Pavel Kostomarov
Cast: Iryna Pegova, Pavel Barshak, Yeugeniy Tsiganov, Yeugeniy Grishkovets, Karen Badalov, Madlen Dzhabrailova, Andrey Kazakov, Alexey Kolubkov, Mikhail Krylov, Yekaterina Krupenina, Oleg Nyryan, Natalya Kurdyubova, Kseniya Kutepova, Polina Kutepova, Kirill Pirogov, Sergey Puskepalis, Tagir Nahimov, Yuriy Stepanov, Galina Tyunina, Rustem Yuskayev
Production: TPO “Rok” with the assistance of Cinematography service by the Ministry of culture of Russian Federation, Russia, 2003
Feature: Melodrama, Romantic comedy
Duration: 90 min.
11 wins & 9 nominations

FIPRESCI Prize 2003 Aleksei Uchitel For the fresh and energetic take on the classic 'boy meets girl' story in modern day St. Petersburg

Aleksei Uchitel'’s film The Stroll (2003) is a satisfyingly atypical work, yet the reasons for which it might it strike a Western viewer as inventive have occasionally incurred a less than welcoming journalistic response in Russia, to say the least. Whilst Nikita Mikhalkov has declared the movie a breakthrough in Russian cinematography, journalists in Moscow and St. Petersburg have dismissed it as derivative of the very feature film that began Mikhalkov’s career, I Stroll about Moscow (Ia shagaiu po Moskve [Georgii Daneliia, 1963]). Other points of comparative, condescending reference have been Russian Ark (Russkii kovcheg [Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002]), Of Freaks and Men (Pro urodov i liudei [Aleksei Balabanov, 1998]), and the Dogme95 "Vow of Chastity." These incongruous and often petulant parallels are used to characterize a film that lasts 90 minutes and (with minor deviations) takes place over the same time along the blistering summer streets of St. Petersburg.
Until its closing scenes the film concentrates its undivided attention upon two young men (played by Pavel Barshak and Evgenii Tsyganov) together with an unexpected female acquaintance (played by Irina Pegova). The heroine (Ol'ga) is dropped off by a male companion on Nevskii Prospekt and here begins the stroll around St. Petersburg. She is immediately and somewhat arrogantly accosted by one of the two men (Aleksei) and he begins flirting furiously with her as she makes her way down Nevskii towards the Neva. Aleksei is so impressed by Ol'ga that within minutes he telephones his friend (Petia) in order that they should all meet on Palace Square. The relationship between an extremely self-assured young woman and two equally pushy paramours leads to several tense moments, even fisticuffs and quite a few shouting matches. Over the course of these often dramatic, shifting scenes, the threesome slowly winds its way towards a bowling club, where the reason for Ol'ga’s long promenade and interest in the two men is suddenly revealed. Reviwed by David MacFadyen in KinoKultura.

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