Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
In this somewhat opaque film, representative a Russian cinematic genre which could be called "existential drama," the story of a charming man who failed to live up to his own expectations, and whose life consequently also failed, is told by his son. This film contains many references to the works of director Marlen Khutsiyev and to his long-suppressed film July Rain. In the story, Lev (Alexander Abdulov) is the premier charmer of a small social group in Leningrad. As it opens, he has taken a dare that, if he will swim the Neva River, he will bed the lovely Lena (Kseniya Kachalina). He swims the river, and wins the dare. Later, when a member of the group is picked up by the secret police, Lev disappears for a while, apparently guilt-striken at having betrayed a friend. Eventually, he dives into the Neva once more: it is not clear whether he intends to commit suicide, or this is an allegorical image to indicate that he has passed out of the story.
betrayal, river, swimming, wager