A workmanlike dramedy about a school kid who dreams of becoming as famous as the Hollywood movie star, “My Love Mary Pickford” is a movie too late for its time — at least five years too late to work as social protest and about 50 years too late for the acting style practiced by its young lead. Pic has a certain appeal for Central European auds but looks d.o.a. for sales further abroad; it cries out for a child actress with as much natural charm as Nikita Mikhalkov’s daughter in “Burnt by the Sun.”
Set in the ’20s, story focuses on Shura (Olga Yevtushenko), a “Pioneer” (the Communist Party version of the Girl Scouts) who spouts party doctrine and tries to reform bourgeois attitudes in her family. (Dad’s a drunk, Mother is overworked, and Granny spends her time praying.) Her tag-along buddy, Tamara (Ksenia Sevostvanova), is an unimaginative, cowardly lump who provides an ever-ready audience for the puffed-up, dictatorial tyke.
But after declaring her politically incorrect ambitions at a public meeting, Shura is branded a counterrevolutionary. The capper is when she wrecks a community building project while chasing her wind-tossed Pickford straw bonnet. Before she hops a train to Moscow, Shura’s been mocked and burned in effigy.
A subplot involves a romance between two adult Pioneer leaders that’s derailed by allegiance to the party.
Pic is scattered with in-jokes and film refs: The movie starts with a shot of a train arriving (a la Lumiere Bros.), the cameraman recording the building project is called Dziga (referring to the Dziga Vertov classic “Man With a Movie Camera”), and Sochi fest director Mark Rudenstein makes a cameo appearance as Pickford’s co-star in a re-created scene from one of her movies. Lensing by Vladimir Klimov is first-rate, and other tech credits are fine.