Moscow Film Festival l995–Everything Will Be O.K., the new film from the gifted director Dmitri Astrakhan mixes effectively elements of Hollywood screwball comedy with uniquely Russian humor and texture. End result is a winning romantic comedy with strong commercial potential in Western markets, some already familiar with Astrakhan's former outings, Get Thee Out and You're My One and Only, which had played the international festival circuit.
Astrakhan takes the basic format of screwball comedy–a romantic triangle, a Cinderella-like heroine, an impending wedding–and then both subverts and inverts the genre's conventions with distinctively Russian ingredients, such as a rural, provincial locale and typical Russian mores.
Kolya (Anatoli Guravlev) and Olga (Olga Ponezova) are stepsiblings who grew up together and loved each other ever since they were children. As expected, upon his return from military service, Kolya proposes and preparation for a wedding is under way. But the penniless couple doesn't win their parents approval–Kolya's mother is particularly discouraging, as all her life she has dreamed for her son to marry a rich girl with good background–and an apartment.
Into the chaotic town arrives Smirnov (Alexander Zbruev), old flame of Kolya's mother who's now a successful businessman, and his son Petya (Mark Garanok), a 20-year-old prodigy and Nobel Prize laureate. As soon as the dashing, educated youngster lays his yes on Olga, it's clear that a fateful night–and all kinds of complications–will ensue on the way to church altar.
It's to the credit of scripter Romanenko and director Astrakhan that, though they employ the basic structure of a fairy tale, there's still genuine suspense. To the last minute, it's unclear who'll be the lucky fellow to wed the charming, if also totally confused and unpredictable Olga.
Indeed, while the two contenders are broad types–Kolya's country bumpkin is sharply contrasted with Petya's suave and urbane gentleman–the filmmakers avoid prejudging them, making each lad attractive and appealing in his own peculiar way. This device works so well that at different points of the story, the audience is rooting for either to win the girl.
Acutely-observed comedy also includes half a dozen eccentric characters that enrich the central situation. Thus in the midst of the confusion arrives a Japanese businessman, escorted by a local beauty, simply called “Miss TV.” With the aid of an oriental spell, he's able to cure the drinking problem of the town's wrestler. In the background, there's also Smirnov's bodyguard, a Mafioso type who always carries a gun, and a provincial girl, who wishes her rock singer b.f. were more like Elvis.
Helmer Astrakhan is particularly adept at controlling the tale's mood, which shifts from comedy to pathos and sentimentality–all Russian style–with no evident strain. Simultaneously rueful and funny dialogue is well-served by the lead trio, and particularly by Ponezova, whose dizzy dame is reminiscent of the young Goldie Hawn.
Everything Will Be O.K. represents a new style of fast-paced comedy that blends Russian and American elements. Rendition of Gershwin's “Summertime,” which is performed by various characters in different contexts, will delight audiences.
A Fora-Film, Nikola-Film and Roskomkino production.
Produced by Igor Kalenov, Andrey Razumovskiy, Yuri Romanenko. Directed by Dmitri Astrakhan.
Screenplay: Oleg Danilov.
Camera: Uri Vorontsov.
Art direction: Sergei Kokovkin.
Sound: Nikolay Astakhov, Mikhail Podtakuy.
Music: Alexandre Pantykin.
Running time: 100 min.