On the evidence of his new movie, Slava Tsukerman, who made the 1982 cult film Liquid Sky, would make a brilliantly entertaining dinner guest. The Russian writer-director, who thrives on confusion, has emptied the contents of his very busy head and heart into this crowded, talky, but immensely likable movie about almost everything in a rapidly changing, uncertain post-perestroika world. Tsukerman’s test case for this modest ontological inquiry is a post-Soviet alter ego named Sasha Greenberg, played strong and silent by Sam Robards, who returns in 1992 to his beloved Moscow from self-imposed exile to take in the shock of the new. An astrophysicist who left Russia a traitor and returns a hero, poor Sasha is torn between America and Russia, between science and morality, and between the four satellite women (Ally Sheedy, snippy as ever, plays his wife) who complicate his inner life. Adding to the overstuffed ambience is the filmmaker’s blithely experimental way with form that will keep you busy separating past from present as Tsukerman ruefully notes the durability of Russian anti-Semitism with or without regime change. His aphoristic screenplay (“Sometimes, the price of freedom is collapse”) may sometimes gild the lily, but the amused tenderness with which he treats his hero—if that’s the word for such a porous fellow—and every other blitzed soul in his orbit is completely beguiling.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 15, 2009