Makarov is not a straightforward, linear movie. Instead, this is an odd, dark and comic film about the problems of being a poet and a gun owner. Shadow play (full figure and hand puppet), poetry recitation and constant, inexplicable requests for cigarettes are a major part of the narrative. Much of the dialogue is amusing, such as a drunken conversation about "Zina" the goat and polyethylene, though in some cases, it's hard to be sure if actual jokes are being made or if the humor comes from subtitling problems. (Determining that is one of the problems encountered when viewing a bad videotaped copy.) Our poet hero (Sergie Makoveisky) has a conversation with a woman who explains that the goal of postmodernism is to "decompose" reality. Wit or error? The subtitlers did get the expression "attaboy" right. The filmmakers got a lot right, too. There are moments of exciting acting, and the wife in the film, with her big glasses and nervous mannerisms, seems to be the charming Diane Keaton of Soviet cinema. It may be that, with all the subtitles fully readable, what seemed to be a bleak and quirky tale may appear overly sentimental. But risk is healthy. Usually, we know all we need to know going into a movie -- Bruce Willis stars, it's based on a Jane Austen novel, there's a talking white pig -- and we go and get what we expect. One of the joys of a festival is surprise. And whatever else it is, Makarov is a surprise. -- Edith Sorenson
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