Review: ‘La Prediction’

Also with: Aleksandr Paovtin, Zoya Zelinskaya, Sergei Hartsibachev, Irina Morosova.

Also with: Aleksandr Paovtin, Zoya Zelinskaya, Sergei Hartsibachev, Irina Morosova.

(Russian dialogue)

“The Prediction” is a suspenseful Russian-lingo tale of one eventful day in the life of a famed Moscow writer after a gypsy predicts he’s got only 24 hours to live. Good perfs, the glowing presence of actress Irene Jacob (“The Double Life of Veronique”) and an intriguing if unevenly executed metaphysical premise should translate into fest showings and specialized tube sales.

The gypsy fortuneteller also predicts that 50-ish Oleg (Oleg Bassilashvili) will have a unique encounter. Returning to his apartment, he finds a handsome, faintly menacing 25-year-old (Andrei Sokulov) who’s also a writer, shares his birthday, name and parents, and even has an identical scar over one eye. This youthful alter-ego of Oleg announces he’s leaving for Israel the next morning but until then is at the older man’s disposal.

As part of the gypsy’s prediction has already come true, Oleg senior decides to carpe diem like crazy in case the day proves his last. He expresses a desire to avenge his father’s murder, and the pair visit the presumed killer, a former KGB thug who’s now a decorated professor and whom the fearless young Oleg corners into confessing.

Oleg senior then tracks down young bank teller Lyuda (Jacob), a onetime adoring fan whom he hasn’t seen since her marriage to a possessive racketeer. They consummate their love in his country dacha, where Jacob strips tenderly by moonlight and the camera sometimes observes from a God’s-eye view in the clouds.

Most of the pic’s social commentary about how Mother Russia is doomed arrives in force toward the end. The young Oleg offers his travel documents to Oleg senior so he and Lyuda can escape her jealous hubby. The couple make a mad dash to the airport, where a palm-reading gypsy makes another surprising prediction.

The sometimes heavy-handed pic by veteran helmer Eldar Ryazanov can either be read straight as a mystical interlude or be taken as a symbolic treatise on the temptations to abandon a troubled nation. Script implies that young and old together can create something new.

Lensing favors fog and gloom. Arresting images include an eerie funeral procession of taxis for a slain cabby. Comic relief involves a loon who believes Oleg senior should immolate himself in protest and has bought a can of gasoline to facilitate the public sacrifice.

La Prediction



An AFMD release of a Film Par Film (Paris)/Film Studio Slovo (Moscow) production. Directed, written by Eldar Ryazanov, based on his novel.


Camera (color), Valeri Chuvalov; editor, Valeria Berlova; music, Andrei Petrov; art direction, Aleksei Aksenov; sound, Semyon Litvinov; assistant director, Viktor Skuibin. Reviewed at Images d'Ailleurs cinema, Paris, Jan. 7, 1994. Running time: 112 MIN.


Oleg Gorunov ... Oleg Bassilashvili Lyuda ... Irene Jacob Young Oleg ... Andrei Sokulov Oksana ... Caroline Sihol Poplavsky ... Aleksei Kharkov
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