×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Tuner

Long-winded, theatrically staged but strangely fascinating, "The Tuner" is a refined piece of art cinema from veteran Russian helmer Kira Muratova. Optimistically billed as a "detective drama," this far from commercial satire on Russia's haves and have-nots takes almost two hours to get to its main plot, the protags' clever scam at the expense of a rich widow.

With:
Lina - Renata Litvinova Andrei - George Deliyev Anna Sergeevna - Alla Demidova Lyuba - Nina Ruslanova

Long-winded, theatrically staged but strangely fascinating, “The Tuner” is a refined piece of art cinema from veteran Russian helmer Kira Muratova. Optimistically billed as a “detective drama,” this far from commercial satire on Russia’s haves and have-nots takes almost two hours to get to its main plot, the protags’ clever scam at the expense of a rich widow. The rest is all salon dialogue, paradox and masterful lensing. Festival exposure is sure to renew Muratova’s following of fans, but film’s leisurely pace and elongated scenes — which could have done with massive trimming — will make it difficult to place in theaters.

Andrei (George Deliyev), an unprepossessing type who plays the piano beautifully and drinks on the sly, is madly in love with the beautiful Lina (Renata Litvinova). She’s a spoiled rich girl who enjoys slumming in his humble digs, the service attic of a building.

While he steals from the supermarket, she orders a lavish lunch at a posh restaurant and offers it to a passing bag lady. Spacey as she is, Lina seems to love Andrei, too, and actively encourages him to find some money to support her lifestyle.

Andrei meets wealthy dowagers Anna Sergeevna (Alla Demidova) and her lovesick friend Lyuba (Nina Ruslanova) when he goes to tune their piano. The trio start singing together and, despite their reservations about the young man’s supposed Jewish-Armenian-Uzbek background, he soon becomes a regular guest at their house.

The theme of swindlers and victims is first introduced via marriage ads in the paper. Lyuba gets married to a dignified older gentleman she meets through an ad, but on their honeymoon her joy ends abruptly and a little pathetically when he steals all her money and vanishes.

By this time, Lina has gotten a look at Anna’s antique-filled apartment and is candidly urging Andrei to murder her.

The story swings into its final, exhilarating act after Andrei catches up with Lyuba’s confidence man and recovers her lost cash. But this good deed is just the first step of a complicated scheme he has hatched with Lina.

The mocking actors take their time with pic’s meandering dialogue. Litvinova, the pretend-dumb blonde from “Sky. Plane. Girl,” gives free rein to her considerable comic gifts as Lina, who is made up and lit like a glamorous 1930s platinum blonde. The devious Deliyev is gabbily theatrical, as are Demidova and Ruslanova as cultured society dames who cuddle their lapdogs as they gush emotion.

Production designer Evgeny Golubenko, who also co-scripted, has a field day imitating the geometrical architecture and interiors of sophisticated ’30s comedy, backed by cinematographer Gennadi Karyuk’s elegant modernist-inspired camera movements. One only wishes that the editing could have been more succinct.

The Tuner

Russia

Production: A Pygmalion Production Film Co. production. Produced by Sergei Chliyants. Directed by Kira Muratova. Screenplay, Muratova, Sergei Chetvyortkov, Evgeny Golubenko.

Crew: Camera (color), Gennadi Karyuk; editor, Valentina Oleynik; production designer, Golubenko; costume designer, Ruslan Hvastov; sound (Dolby Digital), Efim Turetski. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 6, 2004. Running time: 154 MIN.

With: Lina - Renata Litvinova Andrei - George Deliyev Anna Sergeevna - Alla Demidova Lyuba - Nina RuslanovaWith: Alexei Pavlovski, Yuri Shlikov, Boris Burski, Sergei Behterev.

More Film

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

  • Netflix, Shmetflix: At Cannes 2019, the

    Netflix, Shmetflix: At Cannes 2019, the Movies Needed Every Inch of the Big Screen

    In the May 24 edition of The New York Times, there was a column by Timothy Egan, entitled “The Comeback of the Century: Why the Book Endures, Even in an Era of Disposable Digital Culture,” that celebrated those things that come between two hard covers as a larger phenomenon than mere nostalgia. The column keyed [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Dominates International Box Office With $121 Million

    Disney’s “Aladdin” is showing plenty of worldwide drawing power with $121 million overseas for the weekend, opening in first place in nearly all international markets. The reboot of the 1992 animated classic has received strong family attendance with a significant gain on Saturday and Sunday. China leads the way with an estimated $18.7 million for [...]

  • Aladdin

    Box Office: 'Aladdin' Taking Flight With $105 Million in North America

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” is flying high with an estimated $105 million in North America during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. It’s the sixth-highest Memorial Day weekend total ever, topping the 2011 mark of $103.4 million for “The Hangover Part II.” The top total came in 2007, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” [...]

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content