Director: Karen Oganesyan
Writers: Yuriy Korotkov, Sergey Kaluzhanov,
Stars: Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Aleksey Dmitriev,Andrey Fedortsov
May of 1945. The whole country is celebrating the victory and hopes to start a new life. Soviet soldiers, that managed to conquer Berlin, are dreaming about returning to their native land – as heroes. But right now they can’t leave. Five airmen – Vadik, Lyosha, Garik, Vanya and Misha – are devastated by this, as they fear that there will be no more pretty girls by the time they will finally come home. Suddenly Lyosha Kaverin gets lucky – he is sent with an assignment to USSR. And the friends come up with an adventurous plan: Lyosha should find brides for his comrades and even marry them, using their IDs. The problem is he has just one day to make all this ...
This breezy romantic comedy, by Armenian-born director Karen Oganesian, best known for his film The Ghost (Domovoi, 2008), is dedicated in the end credits to “Our Grandmothers and Grandfathers.” It is not really a nostalgic film about the Great Patriotic War, however: it is far too conscious a fantasy for that to be the aim. It is a modern farce about love in the time of war, and it trades on the moment when the war-weary population was looking forward to life after the war. It is a gift to grandparents—or perhaps grandmothers—whose war was surely unrecognizable to them on screen here: war without violence, love without sex, honesty without deception, marriage without consequences. In this film, beauty is never sullied and kisses are always chaste, men are always chivalrous and women always knowing, danger is never serious and Stalin “is not always with us” (ne vsegda s nami). This is a conscious evocation of those much-loved Soviet comedies, and of early postwar American and British war capers where real threat was absent. Those anodyne treatments of the war experience were always much more about the reconstruction of human values for the postwar world, and producers and directors see life in them yet judging by Five Brides, or by the intended remake of the 1955 film Dambusters, and George Lucas’s Red Tails (2012).
In May 1945 a group of five decorated Soviet fighter pilots, stationed at an aerodrome in Berlin, are tired of the fight, long to return home, and are afraid that all the pretty girls will be taken by the time they get back. The entire film is essentially their wish-fulfillment. When one of them, Lesha Kaverin (Danila Kozlovskii), is given a 24-hour leave to return home to the Smolensk region, his friend, Vadim (Artur Smol’ianinov) hatches a cunning plan. He persuades Lesha to visit a girl, Nastia (Svetlana Khodchenkova) with whom he has been corresponding, marry her using his (Vadim’s) papers, and bring her back legally to Berlin as his wife. The stage is set for farce, when Lesha’s three other comrades persuade him to find them wives as well with the same ploy. Good-natured Lesha is fortunate to fall in with a tomboyishly pretty postal woman, Zoia (Liza Boiarskaia), who gives him a ride along the dusty road in search of Nastia, only to end up guiding his quest.
Reviewed by Frederick C. Corney © 2012 in KinoKultura