Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Elina Suni: Veronica is not coming - Вероника не придет (2008)

Director: Elina Suni
Writer: Elina Suni
Stars: Rimma Markova, Mariya Skosyreva, Vitali Yemashov

In Elina Suni’s latest cinematic endeavor after her debut Man in a Case (Chelovek v futliare, 2006), Veronika Isn’t Coming, first impressions can be misleading, love overcomes personal tragedy, and happiness can arrive when you least expect it: “on a dashing horse, sitting on a broom.” All in all, there are few narrative surprises in this whimsical film. The story opens on the day when Veronika Pavolvna Sorokina, a famous journalist, deputy of the Supreme Council, and Hero of Socialist Labor, hits rock bottom.

A miserable old woman, Veronika staggers drunkenly through an empty Moscow morning. The only signs of her former glory are the honorific medal pinned on the breast of her soiled blouse, and her ability to terrorize all who cross her path. Flocks of birds scatter, car alarms sound, and a hapless door attendant cringes away in fear. Like some terrible witch, she stomps through her son Andrei’s apartment, frightening his wife and children and tearing apart his kitchen. As she leaves, she hears him shout through the padded apartment door that he hates her and never wants her to return.

Thirty years before, in 1968, Veronika is an ambitious, attractive, talented, and charming woman, using all of her wiles to secure a better life for her son. She convinces her powerful lover to intercede on Andrei’s behalf to get him onto the Olympic bicycling team. When Andrei discovers her interference, he refuses to join the team and runs away to the “North”.

The action deftly weaves between these two time frames. In the present, Veronika has nothing left to live for. She decides to go to a retirement home for Party officials, where she plans to last for two months before dying peacefully in her sleep. Her arrival at the home is paralleled by her first day on the job as editor-in-chief of a newspaper. In both past and present, she is followed by whispers of her scandalous rise to prominence and she pursues her own goals without recourse to the opinions of others. In the present, she embraces her despair with an almost comical single-mindedness. For example, she shows up in her bathrobe to a formal dinner given in her honor. In 1968, however, it is love which she pursues without thinking of the consequences. ...
Reviewed by Emily Hillhouse © 2009 in KinoKultura

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