A new film about a drunken, provincial wedding party has become Russia’s most talked-about movie of the year as film as the subject matter hits a sensitive spot for Russians.
Opinions on the film "Gorko!" from little-known director Zhora Kryzhovnikov are divided, with some saying they were offended, and others saying they loved it.
Filmmakers promoted “Gorko!” as a romantic comedy, and the tagline for the film’s advertisements appeared to be an innocent, light comedy:
“Progressive and talented Natasha and Roma dream of a European wedding on the beach, but Natasha's stepfather has other ideas. As city manager, he thinks the festivities should be a springboard for his own career and tries to arrange everything accordingly. An evening in a restaurant complete with all of the boring traditions is prepared for the young couple. Finding themselves unable to argue, the pair decides to have their dream wedding anyway, but to keep it secret from their conservative relatives. By crazy coincidence, both celebrations come together."
Gorko! Official trailer (Russian). Source: YouTube
Russian viewers were offended but laughed, and critics loved it. But what about foreign filmgoers?
Tom Barton, U.K.:
It was a very colorful and lively film that seemed more real and less staged than any other Russian film that I've ever seen. I think that large families in Greece or Spain, or Gypsies really could have this type of wedding.
But "Gorko!" has an attitude of complete disrespect for the authorities, which is not common in these countries, or at least is not stereotypical for them. Of course, it's a movie and not reality. I have attended some Russian weddings, however, and there I have seen such disgusting drunkenness and antics.
"Gorko!" also touches on the more serious issue that young Russians do not want to bear the burden of the old wedding traditions, but still love the warmth of a big family.
Shaun Walker, U.K.:
I really enjoyed the film. It is well made and very funny in some places. At times the plot is close to the style of "make fun of the cops," but in the end it was more heartwarming than malicious.
I think that all countries have their funny wedding traditions and weddings that go too far, but the wedding shown in the film seems to be purely Russian. I definitely recognized some of the characters and situations from the Russian weddings that I've been to.
Marta Allevato, Italy:
In southern Russia, just like in Italy, a wedding is a family affair and family members often interfere in organizing it.
The first part of the movie is funny, but then becomes boring.
There's too much noise and always the same scene: crazy drunk Russians who don't know what to do.
It was surprising that in the end, the young couple prefers the traditions (at least so it seems). The cool, Ibizan-style party that a friend arranged for them on the Black Sea doesn't feel right to them.
Actually, I have never been to a Russian wedding. Probably this couldn't happen in Moscow, but in the provinces, maybe it could?
Anna Malpas, U.K.:
I think the film looks lovely. After seeing it I wanted to go to Gelendzhik. I was at a wedding in a Russian provincial town with a ceremony in the registry office, and afterwards we went to a restaurant where everyone danced.
So I was expecting something like that. I’ve been to weddings in the U.S. and Australia, and it seems to me that weddings are somewhat the same everywhere -- they're big parties with people who don't know each other, and who sometimes have a hard time talking with each other.
It seems to me that "Gorko!" can be considered Russia's response to "Four Weddings and a Funeral" or "Bridesmaids." What I thought was quite different from in Britain was the fact that the film doesn’t emphasize the big difference in the social statuses of the parents of the bride and groom, but only the generational difference.
We see in the film that the bride's parents are richer and more influential, but both families want the same wedding, where everyone drinks and dances. I doubt that this would be possible in Britain. There a rich couple would want a more formal wedding ceremony and reception."
Jackie Kerr, U.S.:
The film is silly, but also very funny. To be honest, I have not seen a real wedding in Russia, although I have been at weddings of Russian friends in the United States. I think that after watching this film, I now finally completely understand the lyrics to Gogol Bordello's "American Wedding" ("Where's the vodka, where's marinated herring?").
It's definitely a different kind of celebration than in the U.S. The cultural clash between generations is funny compared to what happens in the U.S., where the younger generation drinks more and dances more than the adults. Here it's the opposite. In the U.S., wedding receptions are not as chaotic. People, of course, have fun, but don't go overboard.
Based on materials from Bolshoi Gorod (Big City) magazine.