I don’t think I’ve seen too many Russian films. At the moment, I can remember The Russian Ark — because it’s got Russian in the title — and I just did an IMDb search. I’ve also seen 12, Night Watch… and I guess Mongol is kind of Russian, even though it was the Kazakhstan Oscar entry.
So this is actually my 4th official Russian film.
Despite having very limited on-screen time on Good Bye, Lenin!, Chulpan Khamatova floored me. Plus, I love how Daniel Bruhl says “Lara!” So I was always meaning to watch all of Khamatova’s filmography. But do you know how difficult it is to find Russian films on actual DVD? Anyway, I finally got hold of Luna Papa. I had literally no idea what is was about, so I went in blind. This is what you should generally do. No expectations, good surprises.
Luna Papa tells the story of a 17-year-old named Mamlakat whose love for theater and the arts lead her to one of the theater company’s presentation. She misses it by a hair, as she is walking in the dark paths only lit by the moonlight, she is mysteriously seduced by a no-face man. Next thing she knows, she wakes up in the morning with her torn dress… no longer a virgin.
Now, you may think this is all serious business and that the film gets all drama from this point forward, but it doesn’t.
Luna Papa is actually the fantastic tale of a young mother from the point of view of an unborn baby. Whatever your opinion on pro-life or pro-choice is, you can’t just dismiss this simply as either of those.
Unless I really REALLY suck at math, Khamatova should be in her 20s while shooting this role, but actually looks like she’s about 15. She’s terribly endearing, and terribly sassy.
Khamatova’s mentally-ill brother is played by German actor Moritz Bleibtreu… who I thought was going to be playing a talking role in Russian, but he mumbles one-words. It isn’t bad, he’s actually very effective and quite endearing as an over-protective older brother. As well as the father, who despite cultural prejudice in the town, does a lot for her daughter and son.
I have no idea if it was the lack of any knowledge about the film, but that ending came from nowhere. It didn’t feel like cheating, because there were a lot of things that came left field since the beginning. Luna Papa — I still have no idea why it’s called like that — was just a pretty nice blend of wacky comedy with some high tension moments.
My only real big issue with a highly entertaining film like this is that Khamatova — who is of Tartar origin — doesn’t look like she’s a Tajik girl. Not like I have any grasp on ethnicity, but she felt so out of place from where the movie was taking place.
My favorite scene’s got to be Mamlakat at the abortion clinic, as the doctor tells her to lie down.