Made final 12 months however immediately obliquely related after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this Estonian-British co-production examines a number of the methods a repressive and homophobic state equipment scars residents with disgrace. Based mostly on a real story in accordance with the opening credit, the setting is the late Nineteen Seventies when the Soviet Union nonetheless occupied the Baltic nations. Provincial Russian youth Sergey Serebrennikov (performed by British actor Tom Prior, additionally one of many screenplay’s co-authors, together with Estonian director Peeter Rebane and story originator Sergey Fetisov) is doing his nationwide service at a military base in Estonia. He has a coy flirtation going with native magnificence Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya), a secretary on the bottom for a commanding officer, and he’s pally along with his bunk mate Volodja (Jake Henderson). Nonetheless, when Sergey is assigned to function a form of valet to suave ace fighter pilot Roman Matvajev (Ukrainian actor Oleg Zagorodnii), the attraction between the 2 males turns bodily they usually’re quickly making out to Tchaikovsky information and sneaking off to Tallinn to observe a efficiency of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, therefore the movie’s title.
Alas, this was a time when homosexuality was outlawed within the Soviet navy – although the present state of affairs isn’t significantly better – and an nameless supply suggestions off the native KGB officer, that means that Sergey and Roman have to cover their love away. Sergey’s service involves an finish, and he strikes to Moscow to coach to turn into an actor, discovering a extra bohemian circle that lets him maintain the closet door ajar if not absolutely open. A couple of years go by and in basic melodrama trend, Roman exhibits up once more, simply unable to stop Sergey (as they are saying in Brokeback Mountain), regardless that he has married and fathered a son within the meantime.
Finally, it’s a reasonably unhappy story, not not like Brokeback given the interval setting and closeted-love theme. However director Rebane, although competent sufficient, isn’t any Ang Lee. Prior and Zagorodnii actually have romantic chemistry, however the dialogue is commonly greater than a little bit stiff and there’s one thing weirdly off about films the place characters communicate English with each other as an alternative of the language the characters are imagined to be talking in, on this case Russian. You may see why the film-makers selected to do it this fashion, nevertheless it makes the movie really feel old school and clunky. That’s a disgrace as a result of the movie’s exploration of affection, braveness and the value of talking your reality is as well timed because it’s ever been, and for Russians notably.