"Catcher" reps yet another contribution to Russia's slush pile of pics about good-hearted yet feisty street urchins living and suffering on the streets. Debut feature for Tadjik-born helmer Farkhot Abdullaev softens gritty action with fey touches including kind circus dwarves, but essentially this is dreary, melodramatic stuff.

“Catcher” reps yet another contribution to Russia’s slush pile of pics about good-hearted yet feisty street urchins living and suffering on the streets. Debut feature for Tadjik-born helmer Farkhot Abdullaev softens gritty action with fey touches including kind circus dwarves, but essentially this is dreary, melodramatic stuff. Pic is unlikely to catch much B.O. action at home and looks destined for strictly domestic tube play.

Short but strong teenager Kolian (Oleg Kulaev, promising) falls in with a gang of orphans who hustle for money near a provincial airport and live in a grounded airplane. Their wheelchair-bound leader Alik (Alexander Naumov) collects their takings, supposedly saving for a house in Moscow, but really to feed his heroin habit which his g.f. Mara (Evgenia Dobrovolskaya) helps him disguise. Kolian’s discovery of the truth and subsequent revelation of it gets him blackballed by the gang, and, although he pines for his squeeze Oksana (Anastasia Yakovleva), he seeks his fortune elsewhere. Dwarves hire him to “catch” them in their acrobatic routine, hence the title. Last act is an endless procession of minor tragedies, and lasts too long. Tech parcel just average.

Catcher

Russia

Production

A Mikhail Kalatozov Fund production, with the participation of the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography. (International sales: Mikhail Kalatozov, Moscow.) Produced by Kalatozov, Andrei Bondarenko, Vladislav Rozin. Directed by Farkhot Abdullaev. Screenplay, Abdullaev, Evgeny Mitko.

Crew

Camera (color), Archil Akhvlediani; music, David Evgenidze; production designer, Sergei Vorobev. Reviewed at Sochi Open Russian Film Festival (competing), June 10, 2005. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Oleg Kulaev, Anastasia Yakovleva, Alexander Naumov, Evgenia Dobrovolskaya.
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