Synopsis by Mark Deming
A naive girl's love for Switzerland is put to the test in this satiric comedy. Irina (Yelena Panova) is a woman from Russia who all her life has always been fascinated by Switzerland and longs to live there some day, though her notion of Swiss life has more to do with Heidi and old movies set in the Alps than reality. So when fashion designer Charlotte De (Geraldine Chaplin) and lawyer Alfred Waldvogel (Ulrich Noethen) offer Irina a chance to live in Switzerland and gain the Swiss passport she's always dreamed of, she leaps at the chance. Never mind that she's actually working for them as a prostitute, catering to the sexual appetites of the slimier members of the Swiss upper crust -- she's simply delighted to be there and nothing bothers her a bit. However, just as Irina's about to gain her cherished passport, her "sponsors" decide she's outlived her usefulness and send her back home. She responds by blowing the whistle on Charlotte and Alfred, which in turn sends a shock wave through the nation's social and political foundations. Beresina was noted for its barbed wit, clever production design, and a fine comic performance by Yelena Panova when it was screened in the "Un Certain Regard" category at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.