I didn’t think this was a genre we did particularly well and usually left up to the Septics until I saw RUSSIAN DOLL. Loved it. Of course, it had the obligatory dose of good ol’ Orstrayliun quirky and daggy. I think it’s a condition of funding. It also displayed a bit of our multiculturalism without too much THEY’RE A WEIRD MOB. Several scenes involve Russian and Jewish subjects, but we aren’t beat over the head with them.The story starts out as a delightful comedy of errors. Private dick Harvey wants to be a crime writer, but instead must follow unfaithful couples to film evidence for divorces. Unfortunately, one of the scenes he films involves his own girlfriend getting the dick. Russian Jewish E-mail order bride Katia arrives in Australia to find her Internet betrothed has had the dick. She meets Harvey’s married best mate, Ethan, who slips her the dick.
What follows retreads some of the old ground of GREENCARD and THE APARTMENT, but with a lot of fun and some nice shots of suburban Sydney. Hugo Weaving is great as the suitably neurotic and put upon protagonist, Harvey. Some of his best moments come in the frequently used device of successive intercut snaps of Harvey confessing to his unseen analyst.
Natalia Novikova will be able to knock on any door with this performance as the Russian doll, Katia. Just wonderful. Wenham does well with his role as the sneaky hubby getting it on the side, back and front. Rebecca Frith is also excellent as the kosher wife who stands by her man.
Sacha Horler is very funny as Katia’s Russian friend Liza. Sacha’s certainly getting a run this year, appearing in at least three features in the AFI awards and up for nominations in two.
I never felt the heavy hand of the director and the dialogue was smooth. This was obviously a labour of love for the producer/director/writer pair and they have done a great job. Even though only 90 minutes long, RUSSIAN DOLL is very satisfying, though it does stumble a bit at the end trying to find the out point.There are some good laughs, superb set-ups, nice resolutions and a great soundtrack. Not a performance out of place. This is a great date movie, even for ol’ marrieds, and a romantic comedy Australia can hold high.