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In this powerful account of the struggles of banned writer Sergei Dovlatov, Aleksey German Jr. provides an unusual insight into the literary world of Soviet Russia.

Dir Aleksey German Jr
Prod Andrey Savelyev, Artem Vasilyev, Konstantin Ernst
Scr Aleksey German Jr, Yulia Tupikina
With Milan Marić, Danila Kozlovsky, Helena Sujecka
UK Distribution Netflix

Jewish-Armenian Dovlatov was not published in Russia until 1990, the year before his death. By that time, he had been an émigré in the US for 11 years. Unfolding over six wintry days in Leningrad in 1971, during ‘the time of stagnation’, this involving drama follows Dovlatov (played by charismatic Serbian actor Milan Marić) as he passes through editorial offices and writers’ gatherings in the vain hope of achieving publication without compromise. Like his previous Under Electric Clouds, German’s film is highly stylised, featuring a wide array of cultural references, from Pushkin to Steinbeck. The resulting film, aided in no small part by the impressive art direction of Elena Okopnaya and Łukasz Žal’s (Ida, Cold War) stunning cinematography, evokes both memory and dream.

Peter Hames

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