The message is strong, but novice helmer Aleksei Mizgiryov needs help with the vehicle. “Hard-Hearted” presents a strong condemnation of Moscow corruption in the figure of a young man from the stix, just arrived in the capital with little more than a soldier’s training and an outdated set of ideals. However, every movement and line feels too calculated, while frequent fight scenes are poorly staged. Winner of the debut prize at Sochi, pic may bounce around fests before it sinks from view.
Anton (Yevgeni Antropov) has a dreamer’s vision of Moscow, embellished by memories of childhood crush Zina (Anastasiya Bezborodova), who moved there with her family. Reality is very different: Rebuffed by Zina and roughed up by the police, he decides to join the force and beat them at their own game. Crooked, sadistic cop Chakhlov (Dmitri Kulichkov) takes Anton under his wing, initiating him in the art of the shakedown and playing with his moral compass. The physical aspect of the city is never shown, but Moscow as Babylon comes through loud and clear. Literal translation of the title is “flint,” a reference to Anton’s self-described word of honor.