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TUNER, THE(NASTROYSHCHIK) (director/writer: Kira Muratova; screenwriters: Sergei Chetvyortkov/Yevgeni Golubenko; cinematographer: Gennadi Karyuk; editor: Valentina Olejnik; music: Valentin Silvestrov; cast: Alla Demidova (Anna Sergeyevna), Nina Ruslanova (Lyuba), Georgi Deliyev (Andrei), Renata Litvinova(Lina), Zhan Daniel (Owner of public toilet), Natalya Buzko(Tanya), Leonid Pavlovsky(Vadim); Runtime: 154; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sergei Chliyants; Pygmallon-PAL DVD format; 2004-Russia-in Russian with English subtitles)

It offers a sharp rebuking commentary on the pervasive greed and naivety sweeping Russia as it wrestles with Western-styled capitalism.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ukrainian indie filmmaker Kira Muratova (“Passions”/”Melody for a Street Organ“/”Second Class Citizens“)helms this sardonic offbeat theatrical comedy about the deterioration of values in amoral post-communist Russia. Muratova co-writes it with Sergei Chetvyortkov and Yevgeni Golubenko. It offers a sharp rebuking commentary on the pervasive greed and naivety sweeping Russia as it wrestles with Western-styled capitalism, allowing for hustlers to exploit the country.

The story centers around two senior citizen privileged ladies, the trusting lovelorn medical nurse Lyuba (Nina Ruslanova) and her untrusting greedy wealthy widower patient Anna Sergeyevna (Alla Demidova), and how they are swindled by a talented young piano tuner named Andrei (Georgi Deliyev) who squanders his artistic talent for such deviant criminal acts.

We witness the aggressive Lyuba strike-up a conversation with a middle-aged man named Vadim (Leonid Pavlovsky) on a park bench, who she mistakenly thinks is her date from a love match newspaper ad she answered. After the opportunistic projectionist swindles the gullible Lyuba out of some money, she learns that he’s the wrong man and that she paid the price of showing up too early for the date and wanting to believe the handsome man without ever checking if he was indeed her date.

Conman Andrei overhears the wealthy widow Anna ask Lyuba for the name of a piano tuner at the supermarket, and is soon in Anna’s house ingratiating himself with the two lonely women. Meanwhile Andrei is at the mercy of his wickedly capricious and materialistic pretty girlfriend Lina (Renata Litvinova), and the con artists cook up a devilish scheme to bilk the two ladies out of their money that’s based on his building up a trusting relationship with the ladies.

It offers a pessimistic view of modern Russia in its ability to see through the debased values from the past and the present as the country heads into uncharted waters, where betrayals, aimless lives and love founded on material comforts and hedonism rules the day and the malaise is so great that even the average man and woman can’t resist such obvious temptations arising from the moral bankruptcy of everyday life. The credo of Muratova seemingly is that ‘Individualism without freedom is hypocrisy.’


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”