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The Half Life of Timofey Berezin

I'm three films into my five selections I'll be seeing at this year's TIFF and already I'm beginning to wonder if I've lost my knack for picking good ones. After a good but not great The Wind that Shakes the Barley and a so-so Rescue Dawn, I hope I've hit rock bottom today at the screening of The Half Life of Timofey Berezin at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

The film is split into two narratives. The movie that I thought I had signed up for tells the story of Timofey Berezin, a worker who accidentally gets exposed to high doses of plutonium at a small town power plant in Russia. Given that the film is from the same production company as Syriana, I was expecting a rich plot that pits the aggrieved Berezin against the evil power plant.

Instead, the movie splinters into a parallel narrative about inept Russian gangsters in Moscow who look to make quick bucks by running over dogs and stealing windshield wipers. The characters are idiots, the dialogue is laughable and the whole thing smells like a basterdized version of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

In the film's defence I will say that the three friends I saw it with actually liked it, although none of them would commit to seeing it again or even recommending it to someone else. Overall, I felt cheated as the Life of Timofey Berezin had so much potential. I just wish the director had chosen to cut a version that was Russian gangster free.

Later this week I'll see if my bad luck continues. Next up is Seraphim Falls followed by So Goes the Nation.


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