Bawdy and bizarre spoof "The Last Soviet Movie" marks the feature debut of experienced Latvian assistant director Aleksandrs Petukhovs. Exuberant but only fitfully amusing, 2003-made pic has already surfaced at several film meets, but looks unlikely to break out of the festival gulag and find distribution beyond the Baltics.

Bawdy and bizarre spoof “The Last Soviet Movie” marks the feature debut of experienced Latvian assistant director Aleksandrs Petukhovs (“The Pianist”). Helmer’s previous shorts “Brezhniev’s Foot” and “Stalin’s Fist” suggest his jones for Soviet kitsch, which comes across as more affectionate than bitter in this mock, multi-generational epic. Exuberant but only fitfully amusing, 2003-made pic has already surfaced at several film meets, but looks unlikely to break out of the festival gulag and find distribution beyond the Baltics.

Narrator John F. Romanoff sits in a “Brooklyn” apartment (a deliberately fake studio set) writing his Russian family’s history, which is enacted onscreen, starting with his grandfather in pre-revolutionary times and through to his dad’s adventures as a Communist, soldier and political prisoner (all three played by Dzintars Belogrudovs). Goofball picaresque tone darkens when villain Karpatch (Voldemars Karpacs) has a deaf-and-dumb character hanged during WWII. Surreal interludes — featuring, for instance, a ballerina chased through woods by butch girl soldiers — feel more “Benny Hill” than Bulgakov in terms of satire. Despite cheapola digital lensing, use of working steam trains and period trappings suggests healthy production budget.

The Last Soviet Movie

Latvia-Austria

Production

A CCCP Films, Visio Studija (Latvia) production, in association with Fischerfilm (Austria). (International sales: East-West-Distribution, Vienna.) Executive producer, Alexander Hahn. Co-executive producer, Dzintars Belogrudovs; co-producer, Markus Fischer. Directed, written by Aleksandrs Petukhovs.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Henriks Pilipsons, Ralfs Jacobs; editors, Jutta Brante, Kristians Strobls; music, Ivars Vigners, Peteris Tchaykovskis, Sergeys Prokofyevs; production designers, Martins Tannenbergs, Aki Gaambaale; costume designers, Maya Yakovics, Kristina Eitrane. Reviewed at Black Nights Film Festival (Baltic Event), Tallinn, Estonia, Dec 4. 2004. Latvian, Russian, English dialogue. Running time: 74 MIN.

With

Dzintars Belogrudovs, Yevgeniya Kryukova, Igor Klass, Voldemars Karpacs, Larisa Totunova, Ints Burans.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more