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A Vacancy in Roslov’s Crew
The title Free Floating says almost nothing of the film; neither is the initial title Road Works more speaking. The film director Boris Khlebnikov dislikes both the titles: “The genre of parable is extremely vexing. I always want to film simple stories. About Vasya, or about Petya…”
This story is about Lyonya. The film is a bright and witty variety of anecdotic happenings that take place in life of a provincial guy named Lyonya, who is trying to find a job, because the motor factory where he had not even got his first wages was closed and sold to “Americans”.
In the long run Lyonya gets fixed up in a road maintenance crew and for some time silently bears the severities of life thrust upon him. The people he meets are just terrific: the foreman Roslov is a trickster and demagogue in command of an odd old man called “a bucket man” and a horrifying gibbous crook referred to as “a pestle man”. The above mentioned rogue characters, by the way, were inspired by the images of pirates from the perennial book Treasure Island, as the director confesses. Thus Lyonya must be standing for the boy Jim from the same novel. While working in the crew of the ignorant loafers Lyonaya falls in love with his former schoolmate nicknamed Khryusha (translated as Piggy).
“These are people who are not interested in life. All they are doing throughout the film is jeering and mocking at Lyonya and Khryusha between whom some relations, some feelings start taking shape. My character is wearing a worn out T-shirt which is about to come apart, and he does not want to change it, he probably even sleeps in it” – the actor Pyotr Zaichenko comments on his role of “a bucket man”.
The episode when the foreman Roslov (played by Yevgeny Sytiy) with a knowing air of an expert is teaching Lyonya, his “disciple”, how to work and is talking utter nonsense about “road-peckers” and “doctor’s syringes” (implying the road works) is just genius. Especially remarkable is the fact that the text was a talented improvisation of the actor, creating quite a special feeling of authenticity.
In general, the plot of the film is developing as if spontaneously, creeping along by itself. It is practically impossible to anticipate anything about what will be next in the film – that is a different genre.
The film director has fitted a number of somebody else’s tricks into his talented work, yet I am sure he has done it unknowingly.
Free Floating is the best Russian comedy in the recent years.
“Actually it is a film for one’s own people. But I can hardly say who these people are” – says the leading actor Aleksandr Yatsenko.
The actors’ quotations taken from the site www.arthouse.ru
By Mikhail Manykin, translated by Vera Ivanova
May 14, 2007 23:18
Dates & Events
18 June 2019
18 June 2019