Simple Things

Movies

** (Two stars)
An oafish-looking man is stuck at a traffic light in a car that won’t start; an anesthesiologist makes his hospital rounds; beleaguered inhabitants huddle in a small, ramshackle apartment—mundane scenes clog up the opening (and, in truth, the entirety) of this Russian flick. It tells the story of an average fuckup, Sergei Maslov (played by theater director Sergei Puskepalis, making his film debut). Though Puskepalis hardly gives an amateur performance as bumbling anesthesiologist Maslov, director Aleksei Popogrebsky’s film is so diffuse and lacking in plot development that when something significant does happen—at about the hour-and-a-half mark of his 108-minute story—it fails to have much impact. Simple Things nabbed a slew of prizes at the Kinotavr Film Festival (Russia’s equivalent of Cannes). Perhaps blame my Hollywood-addled brain, but I was more tempted to curl up for a nap in comfy theater chairs than watch the millionth close-up shot of some Russian face in the crowd.—Helen Yun, senior associate editor

[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.] 

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