June 15, 2006

The Irony of Fate, Or, Enjoy Your Bath

Reviewer: Craig Phillips
Rating (out of 5): ***

One of my favorite Russian comedies (which admittedly may not be saying much), this 70s classic is also a touching fairy tale, perfect for New Year's Eve. In fact, it has become a holiday classic in Russia in much the same way that Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life has here in the States. But it is more accurately a Russian cousin of When Harry Met Sally. The main story centers on a New Year's Eve mishap that puts a drunken man on an airplane in place of his friend; he ends up in the wrong city but in an apartment that looks an awful lot like his own. When he wakes up on the couch of a complete stranger's apartment, the stranger turns out to be a woman named Nadya, and, well, guess what? But it's the getting there that makes the film a sheer delight, and a host of wonderful Russian songs further enhance the enjoyment.

Director Eldar Ryazanov, now 75, is still working today. Sadly, most of his other films, including the Cannes Golden Palm-nominated A Railway Station for Two, are currently unavailable on video here. But both Irony of Fate and the equally first-rate A Cruel Romance are, so take advantage of a rare opportunity to see an underrated director at top form.

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Posted by cphillips at June 15, 2006 8:02 PM
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