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Russian doll - Stavros Kazantzidis, Natalia Novikova, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

If you're going to do something wrong - at least enjoy it!

When Katya (Natalia Novikova), a beautiful Russian bride-to-be, arrives in her new country she discovers her intended husband has gone to meet his maker; hardly a welcome scenario for a lusty young girl in need of citizenship. Distressed and with no-one to turn to, she finds comfort in the arms of Ethan (David Wenham), a married book publisher who quickly succumbs to her nubile charms. But how can she stay in the country with no husband? Something must be done!

Enter Harvey (Hugo Weaving), Ethan's best friend: a glum private eye still smarting from a failed relationship, who hates his job as a peeping Tom for disgruntled spouses. With a little financial inducement to enable him to write "that" novel, Harvey agrees to take Katya as his lawfully wedded wife, but first they must convince everyone that they really are a couple - including Ethan's wife, Miriam (Rebecca Frith)!

Persons of interest

  • Hugo Weaving .... Harvey
  • David Wenham .... Ethan
  • Rebecca Frith .... Miriam
  • Sacha Horler .... Liza
  • Helen Dallimore .... Alison
  • Natasha Novak .... Katia
  • Alan Lovell .... Max Davenport
  • Felicity Price .... Phaedra
  • Laurie Foel .... Eve Davenport
  • Brigid Dixon .... Jessica
  • Peter Beaumont .... Robert
  • Allanah Zitserman .... Screenwriter
  • Stavros Kazantzidis .... Screenwriter
  • Stavros Kazantzidis .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

An Australian romantic comedy. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but... it always seems to be an oxymoron when I type it onto my computer.

Anyhow, like most Australian comedies Russian doll is as dark as hell on a foggy night, even with the tacked on happy ending. (That might be for the USA market where everything has a happy ending.) Putting adultery into a romantic comedy might sabotage that somewhat, but I'm not from the USA so I doesn't care. Life sux and all men are bastards.

David and Hugo put in their usual solid performances, with great support from Sacha as the alcoholic Russian sex kitten. Love that vodka accent. But it's Natalia who rules the roost with her full-on wild girl mail order bride for whom all things have a price. Katya's been around and she's nobody's fool except her own. That's the heart of the film and the reason it's worth seeing. Watching a woman chasing freedom only to catch it is the stuff of drama because she can then lose it, find it and throw it away.

It takes a while to get used to Katya's full-on personality after the more anal retentive Australian characters, but that's something you have to do for yourself: get over your post-colonial angst and live a little. Didn't you learn anything during the Olympics?

Being an Australian film, there's a whole lot of drama thrown in with the romance and the comedy (lightweight fluff is not really part of the Australian culture - best to leave it to the Yanks). Oh, hang on, I have already said that. Oops. It's true, though... Australians are always ready to look on the dark side of life, especially where comedy is concerned. That's a good thing because life is dark, it is a bitch and you will die. That's why a sense of humour (and the ridiculous) is so important. Can you imagine what life must be like for someone like Little Johnny Howard?


Time to wrap this up. Good drama, good romance, good laughs. Watch it now or wait 'til it comes out on video, there's no great difference, but if your boyf is being a bastard then Russian doll will suit your mood perfectly. You can even have some chocolate to make it easier to swalllow.

Security censorship classification

M (Low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

87 minutes (1:27 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: Undated July 2001
DVD rental: 19 December 2001
VHS rental: 19 December 2001

Cinema surveillance images

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