© 2007 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

Taking what easily could have devolved into a cliche -- the romantic triangle -- he
invests the story with a primal force that drives the story to its inevitably tragic

The plot is fairly standard: Pavel (Maksim Ushakov) exchanged meaningful looks
with the married Vera (Polina Agureyeva, who happens to be Mrs. Vyrypaev) at a
wedding. Believing that they are fated to be together, Pavel travels to the remote
area on the banks of the Don River where Vera lives with her older husband Valeri
(Mikhail Okunev) and their young daughter Masha (Yaroslavna Serova). He implores
the married woman to run off with him, but she returns home. After he husband
displays a cruel, violent streak, though, she decides to leave with Pavel. The fleeing
lovers are then pursued by the jealous husband. With the introduction of a firearm,
Vyrypaev obviously will invoke the literary technique of "Chekhov's gun."

While the plot borders on the trite, Vyrypaev displays a flair for composition. Using
the natural beauty of the steppes, he creates a world that is almost Edenic and thus
casts his tale as a modern-day take on the Adam and Eve story. But he turns that
tale on its head: instead of Adam having been married previously, here it is the Eve
stand-in. Not only that, she more or less abandons her child to run off with this man
about whom she knows little but to whom she is intensely attracted. In counterpoint to
the gorgeous surroundings and the bombastic score of Aidar Gainullin, the story
plays out in the small details. The couple on the run stop to make love in a field and
then skinny dip. The pursuing husband naps and awakens to find a herd of cows
surrounding him. Such almost surrealistic touches keep the audience engaged.

EUPHORIA proves to be unsatisfying, mostly because we don't really get to
know anything about these characters. They are swept up in a great passion that
doesn't quite translate, so the audience's rooting factor doesn't kick in. We watch
them run around in the beautiful scenery or ride boats on the river, but we don't get
inside their heads or souls. So ultimately, when the tragic events finally do occur, we
don't care.

Rating:         C +      
From left: Maksim
Ushakov as Pavel and
Polina Agureyeva as Vera

Directed by Ivan Vyrypaev,
Russia, 73m; 2006

Photo Credit: The Match