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USSR, 1967 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Kira Muratova

Another curiously withheld Soviet film dating from 1967, this hitherto unknown work is one of the most sought-after Soviet entries on the festival circuit this year Made when she was 35, Muratova directs, co-writes and stars in this charming, light-hearted study of a female bureaucrat and her maid who are in love with the same elusive man.

The film displays a daring and freshness, characteristic, evidently, of Muratova's overall output which seems to highlight the unexpected, the stylistically original In this almost naturalistically 'spontaneous' work, each of the three main protagonists has their say, in turn We begin with Nidia, the hearty rural lass who leaves village life for the big city, a journey which introduces her, on the way, to Maxim, the gangly geologist Quite by accident, Nidia finds in-house employment with Maxim's wife Valentina

Scenes are shuffled and the narrative bounces back and forth m time, abetted by fast, unpredictable editing flourishes The whole sweet-spirited affair is engagingly off hand, breezy, informal and often quite moving.

Actor Vladimir Visotski rose to the heights of fame as a Soviet folk singing idol, later to be officially ostracised, prior of course, to his current posthumous status as a rehabilitated rebel-saint and tragic counterculture hero 'Glasnost' indeed.

Best known as an actress, Muratova's career seems to have undergone a similar re evaluation, with the belated release of this film, the 1971 companion piece Long Farewells and the recent premiere at Cannes of her new film in the Un Certain Regard section - PK

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