Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Konstantin Buslov: Loot - Бабло (2011)

Director: Konstantin Buslov
Writer: Konstantin Buslov
Stars: Maria Bersenyova, Roman Madyanov, Gia Gogishvili

In 1991 there appeared money in Russia. In 2011 money decides everything… Moscow. Modern days. A bag with one million of euro was stolen from the car of an authoritative and very rich businessman with “great connections” . Cash changes its owner very quickly, from one person to another… And the story began when Grigory an oligarch refused to pay taxes fairly. ...

 Best first film Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2011


What connection is there between Lev Tolstoy’s final novella, The Forged Coupon (Fal’shivyi kupon, 1911), and Konstantin Buslov’s first feature film, the gangster black comedy, Loot (Bablo, 2011)? The Forged Coupon is remarkably cinematic with its episodic structure, strong, bold character sketches, a criss-crossing, circular narrative structure, emblematic situations and, in the spirit of Gogol’s Dead Souls and Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, an attempt to capture the tortured soul of all of Russia - from the Tsar to the lowliest peasant in one highly morally conscious epic tale. Similarly, Loot is a multi-stranded, relay narrative of numerous colorful episodes that connect disparate groups across all social strata all captured by the contemporary zeitgeist of corruption, crime and hope in the salvation of money that appears out of nowhere. The Forged Coupon, described by Viktor Shklovskii as “the first film script written in the world,” (Shklovskii 1982) has been adapted or reimagined numerous times for the cinema: The Counterfeit Note (Chardynin, 1913), Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheines (Viertel, 1926), L’Argent (Bresson, 1983), Paha Maa (Louhimies, 2005). And now without direct attribution, but with clear resonances comes Loot, an expertly crafted crime genre film that borrows narratively and thematically from Tolstoy's last tale.

The Forged Coupon is such an important work for film history as it gave rise to the recent fascination with modular, complex narratives through its sophisticated structural model of an accursed object being passed on from one person to the next in a kind of enchanted relay where only an extreme non-vengeful response can break the evil chain and lead to redemption. It influenced the narrative structure of myriads of films about objects passing through history and their impact on their temporary owners, objects that range from cars (Kopeika, 2002) to violins (Red Violin, 1998) as well as the transitory moments of connections in the films of Preminger, Altman and Shakhnazarov.

Loot follows the spirit of Tolstoy’s narrative only the size of the forgery is bigger—a briefcase with 1 million forged Euros intended as a bribe for tax inspectors is stolen by some Georgian petty thieves and then stolen again by a corrupt cop and stolen again by another group of criminals and then stolen again... The briefcase goes on a journey from Moscow to Kharkov and back to Moscow and everyone who comes in contact with it dreams of what good things they will do with the money before being deceived and having the case stolen in an endless chain of events. The plot is remarkably simple for such an expertly crafted and convoluted story involving so many different characters. The case is anxiously being tracked by the cops, businessmen, tattooed sex workers, Georgian petty crims, Ukrainian mafiosi, Russian heavies. In fact, everyone is searching for the slippery million Euros. Displaying a remarkably astute investment strategy, some plan to use the money to open a petrol station, others dream of a hotel in Spain while others just want to grab the money and run. They are all searching for the briefcase, but no one can hold on to the loot for long before losing it to someone else. The plot is not nearly as important as the individual episodes that explode with astounding character performances by a large and inventive cast. ...

Reviewed by Greg Dolgopolov © 2012 in KinoKultura

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the movie is out but I cannot find subtitles.. anyone?