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ADAM'S RIB

Russia, 1990 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Viatcheslav Krichtofovitch

Adam's Rib is a jewel of a film whose charm sneaks up on you. Soon you find yourself wanting to spend hours and hours in the com­pany of the people that the director exposes with such delicate and refined touches. Soviet cinema is not known for its intimate human insights, yet Krichtofovitch has returned to a vein mined with such success by the great Rus­sian novelists, and has told a story with uni­versal resonances.

As with so much of that great literature, this is a story centred around the family, but this is a very different family indeed, one that consists entirely of women. Nina, played by the incomparable Inna Tchourikova, lives in a small, three-room apartment with her bedrid­den mother and her two daughters. Much of the film consists of following the daily routines of each of the four women, but the routines are very different and lead in diverging directions. Nina's eldest daughter is obsessively in love with a married man with whom she is plan­ning a vacation, while the other daughter, the younger and tougher Nastia, is seeing a punk-ish, carefree worker. Meanwhile, into Nina's life comes a shy, retiring, factory coordinator.

This is a film of small, cumulative moments, climaxing in the birthday celebration for the bedridden grandmother, where Nina welcomes not only her new lover, but also her two ex-husbands, her two daughters, and all the hopes "and disappointments towards which the film has been leading us. The birthday is by turns comical and heart-rending, farcical and magical, illuminated by touches of human grandeur. Adam's Rib is simply one of the best Russian films to come along fn years.

• Pieis Handling, Festival of Festivals, Toronto

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