A summer's day at a dacha in Stalinist Russia, 1936. A hero of the Revolution, Kotov (director Mikhalkov), basks in the affection of his wife Maroussia (Dapkounaite) and their daughter Nadia (Nadia Mikhalkov), but his cosy world is disturbed by the arrival of Dimitri (Menchikov), Maroussia's first love. In the course of a day, Dimitri charms the household with his bravado and good looks, but Kotov grows uneasy as the reason for Dimitri's presence emerges. This is a careful, telling portrait of a community blinded by its illusions. For most of its running time, the film seems to follow suit: it's a placid, languorous country-house comedy far removed from the realities of the Stalinist terror. This is a masquerade, however. Dimitri's first appearance isn't quite the idle jape it first seems, while Kotov's dacha really is some kind of madhouse. Mikhalkov is a quintessentially Russian director: awkwardly, theatrically expansive, somewhat lugubrious even in the midst of an idyll, but unafraid of ideas and complexity. His own performance is impeccable, and the scenes with his daughter Nadia achieve a rare poignancy.
Cast and crew
Nikita Mikhalkov, Rustam Ibragimbekov