The Heritage of Love

 

starstarstar

 


A miniaturised Russian epic that offers not so much war and peace as love and love.

 
heritage of Love, The
  

The question of whether or not you need to possess some degree of sophistication in order to appreciate subtitled films takes on special relevance here. In Russia Yuriy Vasilev's The Heritage of Love has been a smash hit. It is certainly handsomely mounted and the film fairly speeds by. But in this country you have to see it subtitled and it is difficult to imagine any movie less sophisticated.  There may be passing references to Dostoyevsky and to A Nest of Gentlefolk but that they should be mentioned at all makes one smile for this plays as romantic hokum.

 

What is on offer here consists of two interconnected love stories which nevertheless take place a hundred years apart. The link lies in Andrey (Dima Bilan) coming to modern day Paris on a mission and seeing a portrait of Vera (Svetlana Ivanova) on a gravestone in the cemetery there. The dead girl's love for another Andrey (also played by Bilan) has come to a tragic conclusion during the First World War. That story is told in full set against the other narrative in which the present-day Andrey seeks the girl of his dreams after a chance encounter in which he has glimpsed her. It's a process which reveals that he has a closer connection with these past events than he could have anticipated.

 

Given the popularity of romantic novelettes and of period dramas on television, one can understand that this kind of work, however banal it may be, has a following. The Russian scenes feature balls and uniforms, the Parisian ones do not fail to include images of both Montmartre and the Eiffel tower and the whole is accompanied by a sumptuously romantic music score. The background events include not only the war but the Russian Revolution of 1917 but, save for some generalised celebration of Russian patriotism, political and social elements are never allowed to get in the way of what is described as a piece based on a true story   but which is presented with the tag "Love Is Timeless".

 

The film sees Dima Bilan in the leading double role, and it has been pointed out by some that this winner of the Eurovision Song Contest cannot act. However, in a context such as this looking good when you take your shirt off is more important than acting skills since nobody could bring conviction to this material. Nevertheless, my rating has to reflect the fact that this good-looking film in colour and 'Scope is absolutely consistent in tone throughout. If the film were any better it would not help at all, and certain audiences hungry for this kind of escapism could find here their ideal tearful entertainment - provided, of course, that they can accept the subtitles.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Dima Bilan, Svetlana Ivanova, Marat Basharov, Aleksandr Baluyev, Julia Peresil'd, Jurgita Jurgute.

 

Dir Yuriy Vasilev, Pro Elmira Aynulova, Maria Juromskaya and Nataliya Doroshkevich, Screenplay Nataliya Doroshkevich and Olga Pogodina-Kuzmina, Ph Ramunas Greicius, Art Dir Jurgita Gerdvilaite, Ed Ramunas Greychius, Music Eduard Artemev, Costumes Guinara Shakhmilova and Rasa Tarjanskiene.

 

Fond Kino/Mosfilm/Artbox-Cultural Solidarity Media/Miracle.
79 mins. Russia. 2016. Rel: 2 December 2016. Cert. 12A.