The first half of Vladimir Kott's sophomore feature, "Gromozeka," is so promising that it intensifies the disappointment that follows.

The first half of Vladimir Kott’s sophomore feature, “Gromozeka,” is so promising that it intensifies the disappointment that follows. A trio of exceptional actors offer some rewards playing former school friends coping with the disillusion of youthful ideals, but Kott can’t do enough to grind his characters’ metaphorical noses in the mud of life, piling tragedy on top of humiliation that’s barely relieved by occasional moments of black humor. Limited fest play is likely, though theatrical is doubtful.

As teens, they were in a band called Gromozeka, but 30 years later, they inhabit different worlds. Surgeon Eduard (Nikolay Dobrynin) can’t muster the courage to tell his sour-faced wife (Darya Semenova) he’s having an affair. Cop Vasya (Boris Kamorzin) is psychologically emasculated by a demotion, plus his wife, Larisa (Yevgeniya Dobrovolskaya), is having an affair. Cabbie Mozerov (Leonid Gromov) discovers his daughter (Polina Filonenko) is a porn star. Women are cuckolds, frigid or whores (the latter’s forgiveness of her father’s shocking behavior is especially appalling), while men are pummeled by fate. At least Kott (“The Fly”) generally elicits sympathy. Editing is skilful, and lensing nicely textured.

Gromozeka

Russia

Production

A TVIndie Film production in association with NTV. Produced by Yevgeny Gindilis. Executive producer, Anatoly Vasilkov. Directed, written by Vladimir Kott.

Crew

Camera (color, 16-to-35mm), Ruslan Gerasimenkov, Grigory Volodin; editor, Olga Grinshpun; production designer, Igor Kotsarev; costume designer, Natalya Kharitonova. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (competing), Feb. 3, 2011. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Nikolay Dobrynin, Boris Kamorzin, Leonid Gromov, Yevgeniya Dobrovolskaya, Polina Filonenko, Darya Semenova, Olga Onischenko.
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