The 9th Soul

Movie Review: The Irony of Fate (Russia, 1976)

Posted in entertainment, life, Special posts by Fated Blue on November 30, 2020
This could very well be Russia’s greatest love story

Okay, first of all, it’s been a looooong while since I did a movie review. Why? Because I was always swamped with work, that’s why. Also, I got into a lazy habit of just not writing anything new and letting life take me where it wants me to go.

But yeah, laziness is probably the more practical term.

Anyway, where do I begin?

So this film is called The Irony of Fate and it’s one of Russia’s most popular films ever. Before I get to my review, I want to discuss why I currently find myself in a whirlpool of Russian love stories.

Why did I watch this film despite not knowing a lick of Russian?

Well, it started with the John Wick series and later t.A.T.u’s All The Things She Said. Yes, it’s weird, but I promise it makes sense.

For John Wick: the lore of John Wick seems to heavily involve Russians, and I got fascinated with the term Baba Yaga. The film said it meant Boogeyman, but in reality (as in I had a lot of Russians tell me this; don’t ask me how) Baba Yaga is Slavic for a female witch – and John ain’t no witch.

So I was like “Okay, Russian seems to be more complex than I thought.”

Then the thought hit me: “Wasn’t t.A.T.u a Russian duo?”

Then I looked up “All The Things She Said” and looped that song for hours because:

  1. It was banging
  2. Red Head girl was hot

Because of #2, I had to look up the Red Head girl’s name. It’s Lena Katina, and I found that she’s smoking hot at 36 and can definitely sing live.

Because Lena is hot, and because at this point I was looping Ya Soshla S Uma (the original, Russian version of All The Things She Said except the real translation is “I’ve lost my mind”), I ended up thinking about Russian women.

I’m single.

Look, I’m allowed to fantasize about a partner, okay?! And I always thought that Russian women were really pretty, and Lena Katina is perhaps a really good example of that – especially as she looks every bit like the Russian woman I always dreamed of.

And because I was single, I wanted to know how Russian’s are when it comes to dating. The best way to learn about Russian dating culture (or any culture at all) is by watching some of their romantic films. After all, romance is heavily grounded on reality and slice of life, with a few twists to make the movie entertaining enough.

So I asked the Russians over at Quora on what they would recommend someone who was a total noob at Russian films.

And this is how I found The Irony of Fate

All the answers recommended this film as their #1 or top Russian flick of all time. I was skeptical at first, but I had nothing to lose and a lot of free time to burn, and it was also free to watch either via YouTube (which I would later realize had the sub timing advanced by 5 seconds), and through…err…non-legal means.

I realized it was a 2-part “film.” I’m saying film because apparently, it was a TV-movie shown on January 1 1976 and had a runtime of over 3 hours.

What did I think of the film?

First: the plot is amazing and original, even by today’s standards.

It was about a man who had trouble with commitment and a woman who was desperate for marriage because of her age. Both had fiancees, but both aren’t sure if they’re in love or just forced to conform.

Then a funny twist (that would be impossible today) led to both of them meeting on New Year’s Eve. They would hate each other’s guts at first, but realize that they’ve never felt so happy before. This would lead to all sorts of crazy situations and poor decisions. However, it all ends with the two of them realizing that they were indeed meant for each other.

Did they end up together? Watch it for yourself 🙂

=========================

I won’t mince words: I thought the first 15-20 minutes of the film was really slow.

Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten used to getting sensually excited the first 5 minutes with modern Hollywood films or perhaps it was a Russian thing to enjoy the slow buildup. Looking back, the slow buildup was worth it, especially after the first 25 minutes.

I also thought the singing was weird at first (both leads loved singing), but after finding out the film was based on a play, it made sense. And, the singing also completely reflected each character’s mood and thoughts on the other character.

All I can say after 25 minutes, you kinda wish the film didn’t end. I know I did. It was funny and annoying at times, but I loved every minute of it. I was shown how Russians lived life in the ’70s and their thoughts on marriage, careers, success, and what it meant to please society over their own happiness.

Over the course of the film, the recurring theme was the two leads were always getting intruded upon either by their friends or by the sheer circumstances of their actions. At first, the intrusions were annoying because it just dug a deeper hole for the leads. But, by the second part of the film, you hate the intrusions because the two leads just can’t get some decent alone time.

It’s confusing now, but it will all make sense once you watch it for yourself.

My favorite part

Perhaps the best part about the film is how it contrasts how the two leads met. Zhenya came to her drunk and happy, and he left her sober and frustrated, which pretty much is a metaphor for the harsh hangover after a night of fun and alcohol.

Then when Zhenya wakes up (his hangover over), he sees Nadya again, but this time he’s no longer under a drunken stupor. He’s wide awake and alert, and more importantly, she is real and won’t disappear.

And the actors?

The two leads were spectacular. The chemistry between them was natural. The attention to detail, especially with how they eye each other during mundane moments (such as when the woman loved how the man looked cute in glasses) were really just good directing.

And man, the lead actress (Barbara Brylska) was stunning! The moment she came on screen and revealed her blonde hair, I was in love!

Барбара Брыльска, "Ирония судьбы, или С легким паром"/ Barbara Brylska |  Знаменитости, Актрисы, Фильмы

Her character (Nadya Sheveleouva) was supposed to be 34 in the film, and she stuns! This was before cosmetic surgery was super popular, and so you know she was natural here. At least, that’s what I’d like to think.

Also, the fact that she’s 34 and was trying to get married as soon as possible makes her character still relevant almost 50 years later. Women today are still pressured to marry before they hit 30, so a 34 year old single woman dating any man at all was likened to social pressure.

How about the male lead?

Zhenya was also relatable in a sense that he is a successful doctor at 36, and is also pressured by society (especially his mom) to marry so the woman can help fix his life. Lots of men are successful, but aren’t capable of fully living on their own because they’ve grown so used to being taken cared of by their parents, especially mom. This is why many men look to women to have some semblance of “motherhood” in their life as they age.

Basically, many men can’t take care of themselves and are looking at a wife to do it for them. And yes, to an extent, I also think this way. I mean, I’m pretty “stable” as far as finances and long term health is concerned (outside of just unfortunate events), but I doubt that I’ll keep a level head during some of the most stressful moments in life – and I might shrivel when put under enough pressure.

Overall

The Irony of Fate is a definite must watch for those who love a more “conservative” romcom. By conservative, I mean no passionate sex or nudity; just passionate staring and barenaked souls.

The dialogue, the setting, the natural chemistry of every actor and actress, there’s nothing to hate about the film – except the first 25 minutes. But if not for the first 25 minutes, then the rest of the film wouldn’t have shone the way it did.

It’s one of those films that will take a while for me to recover from. You know Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? The Irony of Fate is that good.

Wait, what was the irony?

The irony can be best explained as finding contenment in someone who wasn’t content with their life.

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