Editor/film scholar Yury Pavlov’s feature helming debut is a quietly captivating religious parable of sorts with significant homoerotic overtones. Story’s cryptic progress will limit exposure beyond fest circuit, though some Euro theatrical is possible.
Handsome protagonist Andrei seems dead-ended both at his design-firm job and in soured marriage to Nina. One female co-worker has an unrequited passion for him, but questions are raised about Andrei’s sexual identity when he rescues a young man from street gay-bashers. As his wife announces she’s filed for divorce (calling him a “freak … just a non-entity”), hero faces new source of tension from Philip, a mysterious figure who’s ostensibly arrived with a major design-biz project.
With his aggressively sexual presence, Philip at first appears a threatening supernatural force. The two men’s odd day trip to a warehouse and beach soon turns surreal, as Philip announces, “I am your patron saint” and declares Andrei the reincarnation of an ancient savior. Latter flees in panic.
But at Philip’s apartment, pic’s rising mysticism grows benign. When Philip kisses Andrei’s arm, a knife wound from the skirmish with bashers vanishes; after a night of ambiguous sexual vibes, this “angel” disappears as well. Andrei wanders around the city, alone and uncertain. Close posits a miraculous new development in the hitherto childless marriage to Nina.
Just what all this means is far from clear, though some visual and dialogue cues suggest Christian and pagan-mythological subtexts (notably in discussion of ancient “androgynes” gender-split by an angry Zeus). Philip’s statement — that he’s “come here to excite your memory, to teach you the one and only thing: love”– makes “Wings of Desire” seem a likely script inspiration. In any case, ultimate effect is a tender, poetic and refreshingly pan-sexual (albeit never explicit) fantasia on themes of mercy and faith.
Performers are attractive and low-key, directorial nuances ditto. Solid tech work features handsome, often golden-filtered lensing and sensitive, sparing use of music. Current English subtitles are poorly translated. While press sheet’s sales line, “The most romantic film of 1993,” seems rather a stretch from any mainstream p.o.v., “The Creation of Adam” does leave a warm, spectral afterglow.