Jane Callahan (Ormond), a go-getting, worldly wise American woman, falls in love with a proud but naive young Russian cadet (Menshikov) she meets in Moscow in the 1880s. The affair ends badly. What Chekhov would have dealt with in a few pages, writer/director Mikhalkov takes three hours to tell. (His original cut was reportedly twice as long.) The casting is perverse. Mikhalkov has hired an English actress to play an American and a 40-year-old as the juvenile lead. The director himself has a small cameo as the Tsar. The 'Barber' of the title is a giant wood-cutting contraption invented by the eccentric McCracken (Harris) to raze the Siberian forests. He needs the Grand Duke's backing to get the machine up and running, and is using Ormond as bait. To emphasise how vast, contradictory and magnificent Mother Russia really is, Mikhalkov throws in scenes of drunken Generals, dancing bears, cadets fighting Pushkin-like duels, postcard imagery of the grandest Moscow buildings, and shots of the untamed Siberian landscape. Like McCracken's hissing, spluttering machine, the film is lumbering and unwieldy.