Second Class Citizens

An abrasive riff on her perestroika magnum opus "The Asthenic Syndrome," Kira Muratova's "Second Class Citizens" is a strained comic odyssey about one woman's search for order in an absurdist modern world. Helmer's visionary rep may earn pic some fest dates, but theatrical biz appears insignificant.

With:
With: Natalia Buzko, Sergei Chetvertkov, Nikola Sadnev, Jean Daniel, Filipp Panov.

An abrasive riff on her perestroika magnum opus “The Asthenic Syndrome” (which copped Berlin’s Special Jury Prize in 1990), Kira Muratova’s “Second Class Citizens” is a strained comic odyssey about one woman’s search for order in an absurdist modern world. Helmer’s visionary rep may earn pic some fest dates, but theatrical biz appears insignificant.

First seen dancing to a Cher song and reciting a long definition of the word “coma,” Vera (Natalia Buzko, star of the middle tale in Kuratova’s 1997 “Three Stories”) begs a passing doctor for shelter from her abusive boyfriend. When the medico appears to accidentally kill the b.f., Vera wanders the city streets with corpse stuffed in a suitcase, meeting a series of buffoonish citizenry. While seemingly meant to burlesque nouveau riche of region, comic odyssey falls largely flat due to numerous extended takes and strident delivery that soon grows wearisome. Tech credits are pro. Original title translates literally as “secondary people”; print caught was subtitled “Unimportant People.”

Second Class Citizens

Ukraine

Production: A Ministry of Culture & Art of Ukraine production. (International sales: Ministry of Culture & Art of Ukraine, Kiev.) Produced by Aleksandr Bolovikov, Anna Emil, Sergej Grinevskij. Directed by Kira Muratova. Screenplay, Sergej Chetvertkov, Kira Muratova.

Crew: Camera (color), Gennadi Karyuk; editor, Leonid Pavlovski; art director, Evgeni Golubenko; costumes, Ruslan Khvastov; sound, Efilm Tureckij. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 17, 2001. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Natalia Buzko, Sergei Chetvertkov, Nikola Sadnev, Jean Daniel, Filipp Panov.

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